A surge in bunkering activity in 2018 is expected to mark the ‘tipping year’ for LNG as a fuel for ships, according to the Society Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF).
The industry body predicts that this year will see further growth in the number of projects undertaken and a continued rise in investment for the sector, bringing the fuel firmly into the mainstream.
“I have been asked many times recently: ‘when will be the tipping point for gas-fuelled shipping?’ and I believe that in the future when we look back there won’t have been any specific moment we can point to. What I do think there will have been is an entire year – and that ‘tipping year’ is surely going to be 2018,” Mark Bell, General Manager of SGMF, said.
Preparation for accelerated growth
Noting the groundwork that had already been laid in 2017, Bell highlighted the adoption of best practices and guidelines around safety and technical operation for LNG bunkering as key achievements for the sector.
“Applying the ‘80/20 rule’, we believe the 20% that remains to be done is going to be the efficient development of SGMF guidelines as more and more operational experience is gained, with so many projects now being ordered and delivered,” Bell added.
One key aspect of the SGMF’s mission has been to bring major industry player onboard to the concept of LNG as atransport fuel and to this aim the society held three board meetings, one Technical Committee and three regional forums to foster community discussion in the last year.
“Our portal was completely overhauled in 2017 and now up and running very well,” Bell said, adding that “it is hoped the emerging suppliers group and engine group will quickly develop the environmental positions for the Society.”
As part of its strategy to expand industry engagement SGMF signed a memorandum of understanding last year with multi-sector industry coalition SEA\LNG to help crystalize working arrangements and ensure a coordinated approach to knowledge sharing in the LNG shipping industry.
“The conditions needed for an acceleration are in place. In particular, bunkering options are expanding on a global scale…Today, there are 117 vessels burning LNG, of which more than two-thirds are operating in Europe. A confirmed order book of 111 vessels will see that figure double,” a spokesperson for SGMF said.
The SGMF is headquartered in London and includes 126 members worldwide with a combined LNG-fuelled fleet of 120 vessels and participation of 46 ports including major hubs such as Antwerp, Rotterdam and Singapore.“We have witnessed such significant increase in the number of projects and infrastructure recently and this is undoubtedly something we can all further look forward to as the greater maritime industry begins to embrace our message and realise the tremendous benefits of gas-fuelled shipping,” Bell commented.