While SMM covered the gamut of tanker-related products and services, 1,100 miles away near the beaches of Barcelona, the Gastetch event focussed heavily on LNG
The inaugural SMM back in 1963 saw just 35 exhibitors attend; this year, 2,289 exhibitors from 69 nations and 50,000 visitors from 124 countries strolled through the grounds of the 93,000 m2 Hamburg Messe und Congress. In such a huge space, one could easily walk 10 miles or more a day just going from one interview to the next.
The motto for this year’s event was ‘Trends in SMMart Shipping’ and there were plenty of new products on display, alongside updates of existing ideas.
From the fast-expanding alternative maritime technology hub that is Finland came news of an innovative take on the 100-year-old Flettner Rotor. This wind propulsion technology has been rejuvenated by Norsepower and fitted to the product tanker Maersk Pelican.
Detailing its solution, Norsepower Oy Ltd partner Jukka Kuuskoski said “The rotors are made from composite materials, making them light and very strong.”
At 30 m tall, the carbon fibre sandwich Flettner Rotors impose a loading that means they are best suited to larger vessels. The rotating sails installed onboard Maersk Pelican are expected to reduce fuel costs and associated emissions on typical shipping routes by between 7% and 10%. When wind conditions are favourable the main engines can be throttled back, saving fuel and reducing emissions, while maintaining speed and voyage time.
While the LPG-powered engine and Flettner Rotors fit the ‘Trends in SMMart Shipping’ theme, the key issue for many attendees was how to comply with the 2020 global sulphur cap and there was plenty of advice on hand.
ExxonMobil announced a global tour of regional shipping centres where clients can interrogate the oil major and be educated on the end users’ fuelling options when 2020 arrives. These events will also provide an opportunity for operators to explore the cylinder oil options that best fit their fuel choices. According to ExxonMobil, for the majority of vessels bunkering a 0.50% sulphur fuel, a 40 BN cylinder oil will be the best choice. Vessels fitted with scrubbers will continue to burn heavy fuel oil and will exclusively use a high BN alternative.
“The 2020 sulphur cap will fundamentally change how the marine industry operates,” said ExxonMobil Aviation and Marine Lubricants global field engineering manager Iain White.
“The century-old Flettner Rotor technology has been rejuvenated by Norsepower and fitted to the product tanker Maersk Pelican”
ExxonMobil also reported its compliant fuel ExxonMobil Premium HDME 50 will be available in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp region through mass flow metering system delivery.
The change to compliant fuels will clearly have an impact on lubrication. Speaking at SMM 2018, Shell Marine's new chief executive and general manager Joris Van Brussel said the current insecurity and uncertainty about the fuels market, stemming from the sulphur cap, meant his division of the oil major had to cater for many potential customer choices.
Mr Van Brussel said shipowners opting for high sulphur, heavy fuel oils with scrubbers would be looking for lubricants proven to protect cylinders against cold corrosion under extreme stress. Those taking the low-sulphur fuel route will need cylinder oil formulations with a lower BN number.
“The two-stroke product portfolio for 2020 is largely in place,” Mr Van Brussel said, “but we expect that there will be a requirement for significant volumes of higher BN cylinder oils to be replaced by BN40 or BN70 grades.”
Compared to previous SMMs, there was a big focus on vessels being built or retrofitted to use LNG, either exclusively or in dual-fuel mode. Gibdock announced it had won a contract to retrofit a Baleària ferry to LNG dual-fuel and this represents the first time the Gibraltar shipyard will carry out an LNG conversion.
Spanish operator Baleària is to invest €60M (US$69M) to re-engine four of its current ferries to LNG fuelling over the next two years. Baleària has adopted a strategic commitment to LNG as its marine fuel, which is already specified for two newbuildings. MAN PrimeServ will convert the engines to LNG dual-fuel.
Gibdock won the contract for the first ferry, Napoles and work will start on 15 November 2018 and is expected to finish on 15 February 2019.
Gibdock chief executive Richard Beards said: “It is nice to be involved in the early stages of what we see as pioneering ship repair work.”
Mr Beards said a “key milestone” in the project would be lifting the 200-tonne LNG tank to place in the vessel – the heaviest lift the shipyard will ever have done. The heaviest tank it has previously lifted is 102 tonnes. The shipyard is bringing in a Crawler crane to carry out the lift.
Another LNG announcement came from class society DNV GL, which launched its new Alternative Fuels Insight (AFI) platform at SMM. The class society explained that the platform offers a comprehensive and continually updated overview of alternative fuel projects, bunkering infrastructure, suppliers and technologies. The new AFI platform builds on the company’s existing LNGi portal, but comes with an expanded focus that covers LNG, LPG and methanol, as well as emission-reducing technologies such as scrubbers and batteries.
SMM 2018 also saw ABS issue an agreement-in-principle to a Chinese shipyard for its design of a large LNG carrier (LNGC) that utilises the GTT Mark III Flex containment system. The award went to Hudong-Zhonghua (HZ) for its 174,000-m3 LNGC concept.
All the conventional-size LNGCs built in China to date have been constructed at HZ and all feature GTT’s NO 96 cargo tanks, another type of membrane containment system. The shipyard stated that with its Mark III design added to its existing capabilities, it will be able to meet the full range LNGC owner requirements.
ABS organised a panel discussion during SMM 2018 during which industry leaders provided insights on the challenges and opportunities arising from the use of LNG as marine fuel. The speakers acknowledged that a classic dilemma remains, namely, while clean-burning gas meets all the requirements for the global sulphur cap, the LNG bunkering infrastructure has been slow to materialise. Quite aside from the expenditure associated with providing such infrastructure, fitting an LNG-powered newbuilding with a dual-fuel propulsion system entails relatively high capital costs.
“A classic dilemma remains, namely, while clean-burning gas meets all the requirements for the global sulphur cap, the LNG bunkering infrastructure has been slow to materialise”
And while some companies were offering concepts and design outlines for LNG bunkering vessels at SMM, but the details were scant. It was two weeks later at Gastech in Barcelona that LNG bunkering came to the fore.
With technological solutions providers jostling for position ahead of the 2020 fuels fray, SMM revealed lingering frustration around the global 2020 sulphur cap, tinged with optimism that this juggernaut of an industry can respond to the threat of change with innovation.
But the overall feeling one took from SMM 2018 is that this calm will not last much longer and that the storm clouds are brewing with ominous intent.
Gastech goes big on LNG
Although smaller than SMM (30,000 vs 50,000 attendees), the 700 exhibitors from 90 countries who attended Gastech were spread over a larger area, and the event had a more relaxed feel. Gastech covers the gamut of the natural gas industry, from extraction, transport and conversion into energy or feedstocks and unlike the SMM displays, at Gastech the stands are populated by division heads and chief executives and it is relevantly easy to meet principals formally, and informally.
Another major difference between the focus on industry safety. The tanker industry aims for high levels of safety, but as numerous incidents show, collisions, allisions and accidents continue to occur. At Gastech, the industry’s positive attitude to safety is evident among the products and services on display; it appears built into the basic sector’s framework.
Shipping was covered at Gastech, but only as part of the overall supply chain that includes LNG bunkering. ABS hosted a presentation by probunkers, the LNG bunkering start up founded by chief executive Alexander Prokopakis.
From its headquarters in Athens, probunkers aims to design, build, own and operate a fleet of LNG supply vessels, initially in seven ports: Houston; Rotterdam (or, alternatively, Antwerp); Gibraltar; Singapore; Hong Kong; Busan and Fujairah. A key element of the project involves standardising as much as possible the design of the LNG bunker barge under the ethos of “design it once, build it many times.”
Mr Prokopakis revealed that the project to build a global network of LNG bunkering stations has significant backing from the Greek shipping community.
Alexander Prokopakis (probunkers): “ABS is providing technical support; probunkers is designing the LNG bunkering vessel”
ABS will provide technical support as it embarks on designing a fleet of specialist LNG bunker vessels for key ports around the world.
“With its low sulphur emissions, LNG is an attractive proposition for shipowners and operators responding to the 2020 sulphur cap,” said ABS vice president for global business development Peter Fitzpatrick. “However, a lack of bunkering infrastructure has been one of the key constraints on its adoption.”
Another LNG bunkering barge announcement came from Spanish engineering group SENER. DNV GL presented the engineering and technology group SENER with an approval in principle (AiP) certificate for an LNG-fuelled bunkering vessel.
Rafael de Gongora (SENER) and Lucas Ribeiro (DNV GL): SENER’s Mr de Góngora receives an agreement-in-principle from DNV GL area manager Iberia & France Mr Ribeir
The new design complies with DNV GL class rules and all current and upcoming regulations, including the new emission control regulations and the IGF Code for fuel with a low flashpoint. Two separate AiPs have been issued, covering the design of the SENER LNG bunkering vessel family, which consists of a small unit with a bunker capacity of 4,000 m3 and a larger unit with bunkering capacity of 8,000 m3.
“We have focused our design on the optimisation of the cost, safety, efficiency and bunkering processes, by minimising operating expenses and capital costs, reducing the risks during loading and bunkering, and managing and reducing the boil off,” said SENER general manager of marine Rafael de Góngora.
He added: “LNG is emerging in several ship sectors and has great potential, but should be accompanied by the necessary port facilities and infrastructure capable of providing quick and efficient gas refuelling, in which LNG bunkering vessels will play an important role.”
The approval process included reference to LNG-specific design issues, such as cargo handling, (liquid and vapour), hazardous zones and risk assessment, mooring arrangements and quick release, manifold, transfer arms and hoses as well as boil-off.
The safety aspect of LNG bunkering is being tackled through the industry body SIGGTO, which has formed a specific body, SGMF. It will be interesting to see the positive influence this body will have on the traditional bunkering trade, which does not enjoy a good reputation for safety.
It was notable too that of the LNG bunkering announcements made at Gastech, none of the companies involved have their origins in the bunkering trade (although Alexander Prokopakis is a former bunker trader). The next Gastech takes place in September 2019 in Houston, the home of oil majors, gas companies and US-based bunkering companies. It will be interesting to hear the reaction of the conventional bunkering sector to new kid on the block wearing the LNG badge.
Elsewhere at SMM:
Lankhorst announced a new glow-in-the-dark mooring rope called the Tipto Winchline, a dedicated floating mooring line developed especially for self-tensioning winches. The addition of a phosphorescent tracer yarn in the rope’s outer jacket allows the rope to glow in the dark, increasing visibility.
China has been named the top international shipping nation for 2018 in a report released by classification society DNV GL and Menon Economics at SMM. The study benchmarks the 30 leading maritime nations around the world across what it calls “four key maritime pillars” that include shipping, finance and law, maritime technology and ports and logistics. “The strength of China is overwhelming,” the report's co-author Menon Economics managing partner Erik W Jakobsen said. “It should not surprise us, though, since China is the largest exporting and importing country in the world.”
Finally, Yara Marine Technologies offered some words of wisdom on fitting scrubbers to VLCCs with large boilers. The boiler on a tanker is required to heat the crude oil cargo to maintain the correct level of viscosity to keep it liquid.“These use a lot of energy,” said chief sales and marketing officer Kai Latun. “A boiler is a challenge to any scrubber maker, because of the extremely rapid power shifts. The challenge is to regulate the water flow (to the scrubber) as quickly as the boiler when it starts up.” The solution is a separate scrubber for the boiler. “A boiler is like a candle, it is extremely susceptible to back pressure variations and the rapid changes in water pressure can create these conditions. In the worst case, like a candle, it could be blown out. That’s why you need to treat a boiler with tender loving care,” said Mr Latun.