Schulte Group unveils new LNG bunker vessel design

Germany’s ship owner and manager Schulte Group has presented for the first time its next-generation design for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunker vessel (LBV) at Gastech Exhibition and Conference in Milan.

Courtesy of Schulte Group
Courtesy of Schulte Group

As explained, the shipping group has used its experience as an LNG bunker vessel owner and operator to develop a new LBV design that fulfills present and known future requirements for at-sea LNG bunker deliveries and reduces last-mile costs.

The vessel design does away with the need for fenders and spacer pontoons, which take time and manpower to manually deploy, replacing them with an integrated outrigging system that’s compatible with any vessel type and can be operational in five minutes with the push of a button.

Same applies to the telescopic crane, which extends over 40 meters over the water and can be adjusted to any required reach.

According to the company, the vessel fits with all known and soon-to-come LNG-fuelled vessels. It also features warming-up, gas freeing and aeration equipment to prepare LNG-fuelled vessels for drydock, and flexible design options so that the LBV can be tailored to specific requirements.

The bunker vessel can be operated by a smaller crew whilst still ensuring high safety standards. All of these components are geared towards reducing the CAPEX (capital) and OPEX (operating) costs for owners and operators, and ultimately will achieve low last-mile costs for the LNG-fuel industry, including the LNG-fuelled client vessels.

“We examined the market’s current requirements and recognised the need for a straightforward LNG fuel vessel that reduces the cost of last-mile delivery for vessel operators. We have gone back to the drawing board and defined the operational specifications of what the ideal LNG bunker vessel should offer, doing away with any additional or unnecessary gear and cumbersome operations,” Johan Lillieskold, Gas Solutions Specialist, LNG Competence Centre at Schulte Group, said during his conference presentation at Gastech.

The LBV has been designed to maximise operational compatibility, including: vessels with protruding structures from the hull, such as those typically found on cruise liners with protruding lifeboats, deck structure and balconies; vessels with short bodies such as high-speed, slender container vessels; those with high freeboards including large crude oil and bulk carriers.

LNG is an increasingly popular choice of fuel as owners and operators seek to reduce emissions from their ships’ operations. Some of LNG bunkers are currently delivered from shore-based trucks to ships berthed alongside, and whilst these activities will still be available going forward, LNG sea-based deliveries will eventually dominate supply to merchant and cruise LNG-fuelled vessels.

“The number of LNG-fuelled vessels planned to enter into operation in the next few years is significant as operators increasingly turn to LNG to reduce environmentally and climate harmful emissions,” Lillieskold added.

“The current arrangements for LNG bunkers, both land based and sea based, will not be sufficient or suitable for the increasing volume of LNG-fuelled tonnage planned for future years. This new flexible vessel design will serve both today’s tonnage and future newbuilds.”

Schulte Group’s LBV has been developed in accordance with the International Code for Safety for Ships Using Gases or other Low-Flashpoint Fuels (IGC) Code and other IMO regulations. It also complies with and is prepared for new and future decarbonising rules and regulations like IMO’s Carbon Intensity Index (CII) and EU’s Fit-For-55 programmes.

In this context, measures are either built into the design or available for future upgrade with, for example, a battery hybrid solution or retrofitted for hydrogen power. In combination with a battery hybrid solution and “green” shore power, depending on the operation profile, the vessel could operate largely carbon-emissions free.