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LNG might not be green, but neither is it black

Shipowners are seeking a solid business case for investment in future fuels. They want assurance that the fuel is safe, affordable and available. LNG ticks all these boxes, RINA believes



LNG is a fossil fuel: The groundswell of opinion says it is the answer to the wrong question. But some nevertheless believe it has significant advantages over alternative fuels and is a useful stepping stone to the next level.

In this podcast, RINA technical director Antonios Trakakis, who is responsible for leading maritime sustainability initiatives at the Italian classification society, takes a ship engineer’s view of LNG.

He argues it is safe and affordable, unlike the more exotic alternatives.

All class societies must work with the full range of fuel solutions to accelerate the transition to a low carbon future, and Trakakis is happy to explore the options.

For him, LNG offers an immediate reduction in carbon emissions while reducing or avoiding altogether issues such as cat fines, carbon deposits, and the need to change fuels when crossing into an Emission Control Area.

Greek shipowners, he says, are “very concerned” about the health and safety implications of ammonia and methanol; they are disinclined to invest in a fuel solution that will leave them high and dry when the ultimate choice is made.

“Owners want to remain competitive, and they want shipping to remain competitive. That is why they have carried out many investigations into whether moving away from fossil fuel would work.

“So far,” Trakakis warns, “it seems that it doesn’t really work, not only from their side but those from the charterer side.”

Charterers are not committed to supporting very expensive alternative fuel, he argues.

He is as yet uncertain about which fuel option will be the next step after LNG, but RINA is excited by the possibilities LNG offers for the production of hydrogen on board.

Shipowners need to see the business case for the alternatives.

“In shipping, we always try to find the solution that can meet the target with the minimum extra cost,” he concludes, and warns that the green premium will not be an insignificant consideration.

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