Opinions

2017 October 27

( Victor Olersky, Deputy Minister of Transport – head of Rosmorrechflot - On prospects of using LNG by Russian ships and measures undertaken by the Ministry in this respect)

- Using gas fuel by ships ... is related to international requirements, to MARPOL, and it is an international trend today. For Russian ship owners, these requirements are most relevant in the water areas of the Baltic Sea and the North Sea which are a part of emission control areas (ECAs)... In our opinion, this situation makes ship owners think about economy. Earlier, the economy of using heavy fuels was in the focus while today the economy of using LNG is compared with that of light fuels. And gas is certainly a winner. So, we have, apparently, started a long way of transition to LNG.

In our opinion, service ships like tugboats, bunkering ships and, may be, port icebreakers, should be considered as pilot projects for transition to LNG. In this context we should solve a number of technical issues like safe location of bunkering facilities amid limited space on port fleet vessels.

As for construction costs, LNG powered ships are more expensive as compared with conventional ships by 10-30% depending on deadweight. It is clear that transition to using LNG by ships will not be active without state support measures.

When it comes to using LNG by river ships it will be primarily done through construction of new vessels. There is no reason to convert fuel systems of the existing ships taking into consideration their age ... As for ships of mixed sea/river navigation they can take the advantage of using LNG bunkering infrastructure at seaports.

We believe that ship owners which have taken a decision on transition to gas fuel or are about to take such a decision should get support from the state. One of such support measures is the reduction of port dues for vessels running on gas. It is a practice of some European ports including Antwerp, Havre, Hamburg, Gothenburg, where a discount is about 10-20%. That will certainly increase the ports’ competitiveness ... The Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation has started developing measures intended to encourage calls of gas-powered ships to the ports of Russia, negotiations with ship owners are underway... I think such measures should be undertaken in combination with other measures encouraging “green shipping”.

Of course, a system of professional training should be developed for operators of gas engines and specialists servicing the terminals and dedicated equipment.

Recorded at the Conference “LNG Fleet and LNG Bunkering in Russia” organized by Krylov State Research Center and Media Group PortNews (Moscow, 25 October 2017).