X-DF- and ME-GI-propelled LNG carrier newbuilds are being welcomed with open arms on long-term charters and the spot market
As part of their ongoing expansion programmes, two prominent shipowners have recently taken delivery of three next-generation, highly efficient LNG carriers, with two vessels going on long-term charters with Shell and the third employed on the ‘red hot’ spot market at the start of the year.
The pair of 174,000-m3 cargo capacity carriers, LNGShips Athena and LNGShips Empress, are the newest additions to the 16-strong modern fleet owned by LNGShips and managed by Greek-based TMS Cardiff Gas. Handed over to the charterers in March and April, respectively, they are part of an ambitious newbuild programme of 11 vessels being carried out through 2020 and 2021. The two vessels are both under long-term contracts with Shell.
Both LNG carriers were built by shipyards in South Korea, LNGShips Athena at Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) and LNGShips Empress at Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI).
The twin-skeg LNG carriers are each equipped with two-stroke, dual-fuel, low-pressure, Otto-cycle WinGD X-DF main engines and feature a GTT Mark III Flex cargo containment system with very low boil-off rate – 0.10 to 0.085% volume per day, reports GTT. The ships are near identical 116,542-gt vessels, with a length of 300 m and beam of 46 m.
TMS Cardiff Gas told LNG Shipping & Terminals the low-speed engines were at the core of the group strategy to minimise emissions and ensure safe operations. The company said the vessels have been designed according to strict propulsion and power redundancy arrangements to ensure availability of propulsion power and minimise downtime. The cargo-carrying capacity and boil-off gas generation is further minimised by the use of a single mixed-refrigerant reliquefaction system installed on LNGShips Athena, ensuring maximum trading flexibility for the vessel and maximising delivered cargo. On LNGShips Empress, maintenance and control of cargo tank pressure and temperature is achieved through an energy efficient LNG sub-cooling system. Additionally, both vessels are equipped with a variety of the latest energy-saving devices and each vessel’s design is future-proof optimised to comply with future environmental requirements for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the company.
TMS Gardiff Gas founder and chief executive Christos Economou said: “I feel proud when saying that our company manages the most modern fleet of LNG carriers in the industry, among companies with a critical mass of vessels above 15 ships, and boasts an operating track record of more than 10 years with a strong customer base built from the ground up.”
Added Mr Economou: “The vision of TCG’s management combines technological advancements and good practices in the shipping industry, continuously developing processes and monitoring performance to successfully transition to the future of the LNG sector with safety and reliability.”
Formed in 2011, TMS Cardiff Gas comes from a background of more than 30 years of traditional ship management services, coupled with engineering and offshore project management expertise.
Lucky 13 for Flex LNG
NYSE-listed Flex LNG introduced the 173,400 m3 capacity Flex Freedom to its fleet, bringing the total number of vessels to 13. The LNG carrier immediately operated on the spot market following its delivery from South Korean shipbuilder Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME). Equipped with slow speed, two-stroke engines, the company said it provides charterers with state-of-the-art tonnage, offering significant advantages in the form of reduced fuel consumption and lowered boil-off rates.
Flex LNG chief executive officer Øystein M. Kalleklev told LNG Shipping & Terminals: “Flex Freedom is a very advanced vessel, offering our customers efficient transportation and flexible operations with its full reliquefaction system, which enables speed optimisation and/or very competitive floating storage given its ability to tune down boil-off rate to 0.035%, which is an industry low level.”
With a length of 295 m, beam of 44 m and draft of 9.6 m, the 111,000-gt vessel has a service speed of 19.5 knots. Flex Freedom has a GTT No96 GW cargo-containment system.
Flex LNG has one of the newest LNG carrier fleets. Built between 2018 and 2021, its fleet comprises nine LNG carriers with two-stroke, high-pressure, Diesel-cycle, dual-fuel MAN ME-GI engines with full reliquefaction systems and four with WinGD X-DF propulsion. Flex Freedom is one of the former, with a pair of MAN Energy Solutions MAN B&W G70ME-C9.5-GI engines, each producing a maximum output of 11,975 kW at 68.1 rpm; 23,950 kW total.
“Flex Freedom … was off to a good start, with a spot voyage ex-yard in a red-hot spot market at the start of 2021”
Flex Freedom, constructed to the same specifications as Flex Artemis and Flex Resolute, has most recently been trading primarily in the Australia to expanding spot trading hub of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China (JKTC) but is available to trade worldwide.
Mr Kalleklev said: “Flex Freedom was delivered on New Year’s Day and was off to a good start with a spot voyage ex-yard in a red hot spot market at the start of 2021.
“The vessel has had an excellent performance since delivery, which is no surprise for us given the fact she was built at a first-class yard, DSME, and she is sister vessel of Flex Artemis and Flex Resolute. The ship is also very similar to Flex Endeavour, Flex Enterprise, Flex Constellation and Flex Courageous which are equipped with a partial reliquefaction system (PRS) so the main difference here is that these ships are furnished with one large high-pressure compressor, while Flex Freedom and her sister vessels are furnished with two high pressure compressors for boil-off handling.”
Flex LNG said Flex Freedom, and its other modern ships, were designed to comply with the coming IMO decarbonisation rules scheduled to take effect in 2023 and which will impact the viability of steam turbine-driven LNG carriers.
A spokesman added: “Up to 2010, LNG carriers were generally constructed with steam turbines for propulsion. While these vessels still make up a large part of the fleet, they have a cost disadvantage to modern vessels due to higher fuel consumption. The ME-GI diesel engine, developed and marketed by MAN Energy Solutions, applies the principle of non-premixed combustion and the first LNG ME-GI vessel was delivered in 2016. Owners and operators are provided with maximum fuel flexibility and, depending on the relative price and availability of gas and fuel oil, are free to choose the most competitive fuel as the engine operates with the same efficiency on both gas and fuel.”