LNG as a ship fuel has been discussed in shipping circles for approximately five years now. However, the first non-gas-carrier vessel running on LNG came into operation in Norway in 2000. This was the only such vessel for 13 years, until the first LNG-fuelled vessels not operating in Norwegian waters came into service in 2013. Now, LNG as a ship fuel is spreading into worldwide commercial shipping. Today, 50 LNG-fuelled ships are in service and six of them operate outside Norway. This year was the first time that the order book for LNG-fuelled ships contained more ships than the number of LNG-fuelled ships in operation. Sixty-six ships are on order and only 19 of them will operate in Norway, while 20 will operate in the US and 23 in Europe outside Norwegian waters. The first container ship on order will come into service in 2015 but 14 of the 66 vessels on order are container ships, ten of them classed by DNV GL. All container ships on order will operate in European and North American waters. They are the answer to the SECA/ECA fuel-cost challenges.

Converting to LNG

The low gas prices in the US make LNG a fuel alternative for all vessels sailing between the US and Europe or US and Asia, even in competition with today’s HFO prices. With the IMO worldwide sulphur limit of 0.5% becoming applicable in 2020, global container shipping will also benefit from lower fuel costs. First movers are preparing for this by using DNV GL’s LNG Ready Approval In Principle. For example, UASC is currently building 17 large container vessels (14,000 and 18,000 TEU capacity) that will also be prepared for running on LNG. DNV GL certified these vessels with an Approval In Principle for the LNG system which is intended to be installed if the vessels are converted to LNG.

Certification during the design phase

With an increasing number of vessels running on LNG, the availability of this fuel will improve very quickly. DNV GL predicts 1,000 vessels operating on LNG in 2020 and these vessels will need four million tonnes of LNG as fuel. In 2020, we expect approximately 250 vessels running on LNG to come into service. This will be approx. 9% of all newbuildings.

On the other hand, 91% of all newbuildings will not be built for using LNG. It is obvious that these 91% should at least be LNG ready to ensure that they will be able to operate successfully during their lifetime. DNV GL can help them be really LNG ready with its LNG Ready service, which is a modularized service that includes modules for reviewing documents in an early project state and Approval In Principle certification during the design phase.