Executive Vice President (Technical and Operations) Pontus Berg will discuss, together with other members of the panel, the technical advancements, market opportunities, and benefits of LPG as a marine fuel. This one hour webinar was the culmination of a focused communications campaign spearheaded by the WLPGA to promote LPG as a marine fuel.
Date: 28 October 2021
Event: WLPGA LPG as a Marine Fuel Online Webinar
From Project to Reality
At BW LPG, our LPG propulsion journey began in 2016, specifically in the content of compliance with IMO2020 sulphur cap, and within broader discussions on how we can realize our corporate mission of a Better World. Do we install scrubbers? Buy compliant fuels? Or can we push the envelope, and pioneer the technology for LPG propulsion of large marine engines? We started a technical project to explore LPG propulsion technology, with partners such as Wartsila and MAN ES. The LPG retrofitting project you see today is the fruit of our collaboration.
LPG Makes Sense
LPG as marine fuel makes so much sense. From a regulatory perspective, we are compliant with all regulations related to sulphur emissions, and we improve our performance related to EEXI, CII and enhanced SEEMP. From an environmental perspective, we see meaningful declines in greenhouse gas emissions such as CO2, SOx, Particular Matter and NOx. As LPG consists of propane, butane or a mix of the two, there is no methane-slip as it is not present. And by retrofitting, we extend the use of our assets and decarbonize meaningfully from a well-to-wake basis, especially compared with new builds. Apart from these environmental advantages, we also benefit operationally and commercially. For example, LPG propulsion improve total voyage fuel economics. We save time by bunkering LPG while loading cargo. And with dual-fuel capability, we have fuel flexibility to ensure uninterrupted operations and buffering from fuel price sensitivities.
How LGIP Works
Liquefied gas injection propulsion or LGIP technology is a necessary and complementary step in the advancement of technology needed for zero-carbon propulsion. Here’s how it works. First, LPG tanks are filled using the cargo system during loading. LPG is drawn from these tanks into the fuel gas supply system and piped to the engine as a liquid. A small amount of compliant pilot fuel is injected into the engine as the piston nears the top. It sparks under pressure, and LPG burns to create propulsive force. This technology is now scaled up and fully operational for over 10,000 hours and counting in our fleet. Read more about LPG propulsion here.
We are now more than halfway through the retrofitting program, with 10 LPG-powered vessels on the water, two at yard and three more to go. We have not had any major surprises, thanks to rigorous testing of our prototype, and our experienced and dedicated team on-site. While we have not experienced major technical hiccups, we have learnt valuable practical lessons. For example, we now know the importance of having appropriate filters that can manage organic materials in LPG bunker supply. We also know that the established maritime practice of ship-to-ship transfer or STS of LPG, can be applied to the STS of LPG as bunkers. This allowed us control over project timelines, and we no longer worry about uncertain berthing schedules for discharging and regasifying of the vessels. Our team also had to manage minor quality concerns from main and sub-suppliers, but overall, we have had a good experience, especially considering this is about commissioning new technology.
Shipping is ready for LPG as a mainstream marine fuel, with the necessary technology and infrastructure to support its use. We have proved that retrofitting is a good alternative to newbuilds, especially from an environmental point of view, but also to extend the competitive useful life of our assets, in an increasingly regulated shipping world. LPG as a shipping fuel is far easier to handle, technology less costly to buy and install, compared to LNG. We look forward to seeing peers in shipping adopt LPG as fuel.