The LGC 6000 LNG bunker vessel – a vital step in the quest to reduce emissions
LNG is widely seen as a fuel that has a long-term role to play in reducing maritime emissions. The 0.5% sulphur cap coming into force in January next year is focusing minds across the industry as heavy fuel oil in particular, even with scrubbers, is increasingly seen as unacceptable as a fuel in the modern era. A big part of encouraging the adoption of LNG as a fuel in ensuring that vessels can access it in a convenient and flexible way, and Damen’s new LGC (Liquified Gas Carrier) 6000 LNG class, a short sea LNG bunker vessel that, along with its sister-ships available in a range of sizes, is making that a reality.
The project to develop such a capability in Europe is being co-funded by the European Commission through its Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Transport programme. This supports the development of high performing, sustainable and efficiently interconnected trans-European networks in the fields of transport, energy and digital services. Its investments fill the missing links in Europe’s energy, transport and digital backbone.
The first of the new class is already in build, following the signing of the contract in July 2018. The buyer ELENGER is Estonia’s leading energy company. The Damen LGC 6000 LNG class vessel, scheduled for delivery in September 2020, will accelerate the wider adoption of LNG as a cleaner alternative fuel in the north-east Baltic Sea by providing a mobile and efficient ship-to-ship distribution service for the first time.
The 100-metre vessel is being built at Damen Yichang Shipyard in China and will carry 6,000m³ of LNG in two type-C tanks at -163° C. Efficient bunkering is particularly vital for passenger, RoRo and RoPax vessels where fast turnaround times are essential for providing a good service to their customers. Currently, ELENGER is refuelling the LNG-fuelled RoPax vessel Megastar, the only LNG-powered vessel currently operating at the top of the Baltic, by truck, with eleven required for a single operation. The LGC 6000 LNG will be able to resupply the ferry in a single, efficient and much faster procedure while she is alongside her regular berth loading and unloading passengers and vehicles. Ports will also be spared the additional road traffic generated by moving LNG by road tanker.
Safety is of course of paramount importance and is at the core of the design and build process for both the vessel class and the bunkering procedures. The LGC 6000 LNG is also designed to meet the requirements of ICE class 1A certification for operations in high latitudes and to achieve green ship notation. A dual fuel propulsion system will be used for the management of the Boil-Off Gas (BOG) in combination with a gas burner, and the interior of the vessel will feature high-quality accommodation for her crew.
Since 2016, Eesti Gaas has been expanding its LNG transport and bunkering capacity by entering long-term LNG supply contracts with shipping companies and industrial consumers. Over time, as the adoption of LNG as a marine fuel gains momentum, it is anticipated that additional LGC 6000 LNG vessels will enter operation.
The build got underway at Damen Yichang Shipyard, China, in March this year. To mark the start of cutting steel for the first short-sea LNG bunker vessel to be built for ELENGER, a ceremony was held at which the first sections of the hull were cut from 8mm steel plate. These will eventually be part of the wall separating the ship’s engine room from the tank hold. The occasion was attended by Virgo Vinkel, Technical Manager at Tallink, representing AS Infortar; Peter Anssems, Sales Manager, Sales East and South-East Europe; and Kevin Douma, Project Manager Offshore and Transport, both from Damen Shipyards Gorinchem. Mr. Deng Zhiping, Managing Director of Damen Yichang Shipyard and members of his management team also took part.
This first milestone was followed two months later by a second in May at which the keel-laying ceremony took place. This included the Dutch tradition of placing three coins on to the first section of the keel to give the vessel good luck. It was attended by Mr. Ain Hanschmidt, Chairman of the Advisory Board of Elenger and CEO of its parent company Infortar, together with a group of senior colleagues from both companies. Representatives from Damen Shipyards Gorinchem, Damen Yichang Shipyard and Bureau Veritas were also present.
Assembly of the vessel is now underway with the installation of the LNG tanks scheduled for the end of this year. Following sea trials, the ship will arrive in Estonia next summer and will start serving LNG clients in the autumn, demonstrating its capability of carrying out bunker activities at designated locations both in and outside ports.
Damen offers a range of state-of-the-art Liquified Gas Carriers that are ideal for bunkering operations. The vessels range in capacity from 1500 to 7500 m³ and all feature highly efficient hull forms, comfortable, modern accommodation and wheelhouses with excellent all-round visibility for both sailing and manoeuvring in harbour. The cargo tanks and their systems are supplied by leading manufacturers and the vessels can use vaporised LNG on board for propulsive and auxiliary power. This provides an economic alternative to conventional fuels and reduces the need for reliquefaction.