The uptake of LPG-propelled Very Large Gas Carriers is expanding worldwide as two more LPG shipping and trading companies build duel-fuel vessels, hastening the drive towards zero-carbon fuels in the maritime sector.
This comes as the BW LPG vessel BW Gemini on Nov. 10 embarked on the world’s first VLGC voyage on full LPG propulsion across the Pacific to Enterprise port in Houston from China’s Jiangnan Shipyard.
BW LPG’s internal Product Services is taking the first shipment aboard the BW Gemini, which is “the largest LPG cargo load on a single keel — 49,000 mt versus [the usual] 46,000 mt — and transport it to the Far East”, a company spokeswoman told S&P Global Platts.
Global LPG trading firm Petredec Holdings (Eastern) Pte. Ltd. has also signed a contract to build up to six 93,000 cu m LPG carriers with dual-fuel LPG propulsion at Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) Co. Ltd.
The initial firm three vessels will be delivered in January, March and May 2023 and optional vessels over April-September 2023, the company said Nov. 4.
AW Shipping, a joint venture between China’s major petrochemical producer Wanhua Chemical and ADNOC Logistics & Services, has also sealed an agreement with Jiangnan to construct three 86,000 cu m VLGCs with LPG dual-fuel engines, slated for delivery in the third and fourth quarters of 2022.
“AW is the JV between Wanhua and ADNOC and mainly serves for the product flow from the UAE to China. AW shipping’s main business will focus on VLGC and product tankers,” a Wanhua Chemical official said in response to Platts queries.
“We had already put three new dual fuel VLGC orders into Jiangnan Shipyard earlier this year and will release more information from the ADNOC side when they are ready,” the official added.
CUTS EMISSIONS, CONSUMPTION
BW LPG is expected to produce 20% less greenhouse gas emissions than compliant fuels and use 10% less fuel, demonstrating the benefits of LPG propulsion to the industry, said the Singapore-based company, which is associated with shipping giant BW Group.
“With the pioneering conversion to LPG, BW LPG is demonstrating that not only can shipowners step up to cut their emissions in operation, but that the conversion itself can play a role in reducing the industry’s overall environmental impact. We hope more owners will look to these kinds of new fuels as the industry moves to decarbonize,” said Cristina Saenz de Santa Maria, Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, Pacific & India at DNV GL Maritime.
DNV-GL has awarded a classification certificate to BW Gemini after what was described as a satisfactory performance in seven days of gas and sea trials into safe limits by a team from engine manufacturer MAN ES, BW LPG’s Newbuilding & Projects and Technical departments and DNV-GL.
Petredec, the world’s second-largest owner of VLGCs and a major LPG trader, has a fleet of 21 VLGCs on the water that includes four scrubber-fitted “R” Class 84,000 cu m vessels delivered from Jiangnan Shipyard earlier this year.
“We are convinced that using LPG as bunker fuel in the MAN ES LGIP engine is the best contributor to achieving the targeted 40% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030,” said Phillip Harwood, Petredec Fleet Director.
Petredec Group CEO Giles Fearn, said in a statement the next-generation VLGCs were an important step for the firm and the industry toward de-carbonization by emitting 30% less CO2 than the previous generation 84,000 cu m ships burning LSFO.
The International Maritime Organization in April 2018 announced a strategy on greenhouse gas emissions that targets cutting the shipping industry’s total GHG emissions by at least half from 2008 levels by 2050, and reducing CO2 emissions per transport work by at least 40% by 2030.
BW LPG has said BW Gemini is the first of 12 VLGCs committed to retrofit with LPG dual-fuel propulsion engines at the Chinese shipyard under a program slated for completion by end-2021.
Asked if BW LPG would consider building more such vessels beyond the 12 VLGCs, the spokeswoman said: “It is definitely a possibility that we are actively considering, and the decision would depend on a variety of factors including market performance and fuel prices. An LPG-propelled vessel will use less fuel at maximum speed. More important than speed is the fuel economics.”
However US-headquartered Dorian LPG, which is not currently undertaking LPG retrofits or conversions to dual-fuel technology, has said its engineering studies to upgrade the main engines of up to 10 VLGCs to dual fuel showed significantly higher capital expenditure than necessary to justify the investment, chief financial officer Ted Young told Platts in October. Capex for dual-fuel LPG upgrade is generally quoted at over three times that of a scrubber retrofit, Young added.