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BUNKER INDEX :: Price Index, News and Directory Information for the Marine Fuel Industry
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LNG marine fuel could be worse for environment than HFO, says former IBIA CEO

Ian Adams: 'The LNG myth has progressed unchecked'.

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Updated on 04 Nov 2016 09:45 GMT

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is not a panacea to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and its increasing use as a marine fuel could be worse for the environment than burning heavy fuel oil, according to Ian Adams, the former CEO of the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA).

With reports claiming that the use of LNG as a marine fuel can reduce the industry's CO2 emissions by 75 percent, Adams, who is often called upon as an expert witness in bunker dispute cases, said: "Whilst it is well documented that LNG is an excellent solution for reducing SOx and NOx emissions, I am dismayed to see it being promoted as a solution for reducing GHGs."

Referring to a Reuters interview with Bernhard Schulte Group's corporate director of energy projects, Angus Campbell, Adams remarked: "It is a complete falsehood to suggest, as Reuters has, that 'global efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions will be key for the adoption of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a marine fuel'."

Adams, a fellow of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology who now heads the Association of Bulk Terminal Operators, said: "The energy content of LNG is slightly more than half that of fuel oil, so to extract the same energy output when consuming LNG rather than fuel oil it is necessary to consume almost twice the volume of LNG. Whilst the chemical makeup of LNG will admittedly result in a slightly lower CO2 emission, it is certainly not a large magnitude; but there is another important consideration: LNG is principally methane. With methane recognised as a GHG and widely considered to be twenty-five times more harmful than CO2, it would only require a 4 percent slip through the supply chain to equal the CO2 emissions from the industry's current consumption of heavy fuel oil.

"If we, rather generously, accept that burning LNG will reduce CO2 emissions by 20 percent over the current level, it would require less than 1 percent slip for there to be no gain from a GHG perspective. Taken over the entire supply chain, 1 percent is not an unrealistic slip. Unfortunately, the LNG myth has progressed unchecked with very few challenging those lobbying for a wider take up of LNG."

Adams' comments follow the recent decision by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to implement a global 0.5% cap on the sulphur content of marine fuel in January 2020, and to adopt mandatory requirements for ships of 5,000 gross tonnage (gt) and above to collect consumption data for each type of fuel oil they use in order to provide information for future decisions on additional measures to reduce shipping's greenhouse gas emissions.

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