Hapag-Lloyd’s retrofit of its LNG-ready 15,000-TEU Sajir is important for the box ship sector
As the world’s largest container ship to undergo an LNG conversion, it will pave the way for other container ship operators to carry out such a retrofit or at the very least, make new vessels LNG-ready.
Hapag-Lloyd itself says it wants the “maritime world” to learn from its world-first conversion of a large container ship to LNG (see pages 14-15).
This pioneering project will see Sajir converted to dual-fuel LNG in what Hapag-Lloyd calls a “pilot project for the entire industry”.
The retrofit shows that it makes economic sense. The high costs of retrofitting LNG have been a barrier to its uptake so far. But because the dual-fuel engines are already installed on board due to the vessel being LNG-ready, the retrofit costs were lower. Indeed, Hapag-Lloyd said if it did not have these, its investment for the conversion would be a lot higher, as it can cost US$1M for just one auxiliary to be modified to a dual-fuel engine.
Furthermore, MAN head of sales, retrofit projects Klaus Rasmussen says Hapag-Lloyd paid a higher cost for retrofit work on Sajir because it is first of its kind. He says any further retrofits would be cheaper a result of this work.
The vessel’s 54.9-MW MAN B&W 9S90MEC10 engine will be converted to MAN Energy Solutions’ dual-fuel ME-GI engine concept.
Carrying out such a retrofit allows an operator to obtain an LNG-fuelled vessel faster than if a newbuild was ordered.
DNV GL director of business development in Hamburg and executive vice president Jan-Olaf Probst points out that if a container ship operator wanted to build an LNG-powered vessel, it would take at least 2.5 years before delivery. But a conversion would only take a year. (See pages 20-23).
Another important factor that will encourage other box ship operators to consider a conversion relates to the bunkering procedure. Hapag-Lloyd is in discussions with Rotterdam and Singapore ports and suppliers about carrying out simultaneous operations (SIMOPS) bunkering, which allows concomitant bunkering of LNG and loading and unloading procedures.
In July, Containerships became the first container carrier to perform SIMOPS in Europe by ship-to-ship bunkering on its LNG-powered Containerships Nord in Port of Rotterdam. (See pages 24-26).
The fact the procedure is now being opened to container ship operators is important as the ship’s stay in the port can be reduced significantly and operational delays avoided, leading to reduced transit times.
Hapag-Lloyd is planning to perform two bunker operations, one in Rotterdam and one in Singapore. This will help build up the LNG bunkering infrastructure needed for other operators to convert their vessels to run on LNG.
Hapag-Lloyd says the experience gathered from the conversion will pay off when building new vessels. I am sure its experience will also pay off for the entire container ship industry.