LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) - The Group innovates for the future
2nd June 2017
In 2020, the sulphur content in marine fuels (tanks) will be drastically reduced. Currently between 1% and 3.5%, depending on the shipping zones, this rate will be reduced to 0.5% in 2020, for all the world’s seas and oceans. Refiners do not know how to economically reduce the sulphur content of heavy fuel oil; the reference fuel for ships.
Faced with this new regulation, shipowners will have to choose between the following three solutions:
- Burn diesel (MGO) instead of heavy fuel oil, which would double fuel costs,
- Continue to burn heavy fuel oil but equip their ships with a clean-up system called a scrubber,
- Radically change fuel by choosing to burn the cleanest hydrocarbon of all: natural gas. According to sources, this new marine fuel could represent between 15 and 25% of tank consumption by 2025.
It is in this perspective that the Sogestran Group, of which bunkering is a historical business, has decided to reply to an invitation to tender (ITT) from the Shell group to develop and operate what will be the first river bunkering barge of natural gas in Europe. This strategic choice comes with several challenges, particularly technical, since natural gas will stay in a liquid state at atmospheric pressure when a temperature at or below minus 160°C. This is called LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas).
In response to this ITT, the Sogestran Group has teamed up with a Belgian shipowner, Victrol, also a bunkering specialist who operates on the Rotterdam port; the port where Shell aims to establish this first LNG bunker.
The Sogestran-Victrol partnership has been selected by Shell for the construction and operation of the first European bunkering vessel of this type via a long-term contract.
The self-propelled vessel, which will be delivered in 2019, has the following main characteristics:
- Length: 110 m
- Width: 14.75 m
- Capacity: 3000 m³ (4 tanks - 750 m³ each)