LNG not the fuel to reduce GHG emissions, ABTO leader says

LNG, although seen as the future fuel for marine transport and the next step in reducing the shipping industry’s greenhouse gas emissions, could be worse for the environment than burning heavy fuel oil, head of the Association of Bulk Terminal Operators said.

Ian Adams, the former CEO of the International Bunker Industry Association, 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.”

He opposes media reports claiming that the use of LNG as a marine fuel can reduce the industry’s CO2 emissions by 75 percent, and that efforts to cut carbon dioxide emissions on a global scale will spur the adoption of LNG as a marine fuel.

Adams, a Fellow of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology added that 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.

Although using LNG as fuel will result in slightly lower CO2 emissions, the difference is not that big, Adams said, pointing out that LNG is principally methane which is a GHG 25 times more harmful than CO2.

He claims it would require only 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,” Adams said, adding that 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 to adopt mandatory requirements for ships of 5000gt 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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