New containment systems could accelerate LNG bunker vessel builds
With the deadline for IMO’s 2020 sulphur cap just months away, LNG as a marine fuel is gaining larger market acceptance as a compliance option for a broad range of vessels. While a relatively small percentage of the overall world fleet burns LNG as a fuel – there are about 300 LNG-fuelled vessels in operation, on order or under construction – it nevertheless represents a growing market segment for LNG containment system company GTT.
“In an increasingly stringent regulatory environment, especially in the main trading ports, the interest of shipowners for our LNG propulsion solutions is becoming clear,” explains GTT chairman and chief executive Philippe Berterottière. “In conjunction with our partners, we are continuing our efforts to become a long-term player in this new ecosystem.”
Those efforts include an agreement between the French engineering company and South Korea’s Dongsung Finetec regarding the development and commercialisation of a tank containment system which could be prefabricated for “drop-in” installation in an LNG-fuelled vessel at shipyard.
"Depending on the LNG tanks and initial conditions, it is estimated that the LNG Brick has an approximate holding time of 15 days"
GTT’s LNG Brick containment system, based on its Mark III membrane technology, targets containerships, bulk carriers, car carriers, and roro vessels with fuel tank capacities of 300 to 3,000 m3. Dongsung Finetec would be charged with fabricating the tanks. The LNG Brick was developed as GTT’s cost-effective solution to compete with IMO Type C tanks.
The steel structure of the LNG Brick system has been reinforced to withstand high pressures. Depending on the LNG tanks and initial conditions, it is estimated that the LNG Brick has an approximate holding time of 15 days.
This, in turn, enables the LNG Brick unit to better manage the boil-off for small volumes of LNG, thanks to its ability to maintain a higher pressure than traditional membrane tanks. Additionally, like other membrane tanks, LNG Brick units are customisable because of their parallelepiped shape – each face of the tank is shaped like a parallelogram – allowing them to suit the space available; this makes them more space-efficient than bulky IMO Type C tanks.
Type B tank containment
Elsewhere, Japan’s Ecobunker Shipping Co, Ltd has entered into a newbuild contract with Japan Marine United for an LNG and low sulphur fuel oil bunkering vessel that will use self-supporting prismatic-shape IMO type B tanks as the containment system.
Based in the Port of Yokohama, the vessel will be part of a ship-to-ship transfer LNG fuel supply business in Tokyo Bay, formed by Sumitomo Corporation, Uyeno Transtech Ltd and Yokohama-Kawasaki International Port Corporation, which are the three shareholders of Ecobunker Shipping. The LNG bunkering operation is being subsidised by the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.
Self-supporting prismatic-shape IMO type B (SPB) tanks have been around since the late 1980s, first fitted in the 1,500 m3 LEG/LNG carrier Kayu Maru, and later in the 89,900m3 LNGCs Arctic Sun and Polar Eagle completed by IHI in 1993.
More recently, SPB containment systems, developed by Japan’s IHI and Japan Marine United (JMU) have found their way into a series of 165,000m3 LNGCs under construction at JMU for owners NYK Line and Mitsui OSK.
This is the first time the SPB containment system is being used in an LNG bunkering vessel.
JMU is handling the concept and LNG system design, while the hull design and construction will be sub-contracted to Fukuoka Shipbuilding Co, Ltd. The LNG tank fabrication and LNG cargo handling system will be supplied by Atlantic, Gulf & Pacific Company. The multi-product bunkering vessel, the first of its type in Asia, will have an overall length of 95.57 m, beam of 15.8 m and draught of 4.4 m, with an LNG tank capacity of 2,500 m3 and a low sulphur marine fuel oil capacity of 1,500 m3.