In contrast to reports claiming that the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a marine fuel can reduce the industry’s CO2 emissions by 75%, Ian Adams, the former CEO of the International Bunker Industry Association said that LNG is not a panacea to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“Whilst it is well documented that LNG is an excellent solution for reducing SOx and NOx emissions, I am dismayed to see it being promoted as a solution for reducing GHGs,” Adams said, adding that the increasing use of LNG as a marine fuel could be worse for the environment than burning heavy fuel oil.
Adams, a Fellow of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology who now heads the Association of Bulk Terminal Operators, said that the energy content of LNG is slightly more than half that of fuel oil, so to extract the same energy output when consuming LNG rather than fuel oil it is necessary to consume almost twice the volume of LNG.
Additionally, while the chemical makeup of LNG will admittedly result in a slightly lower CO2 emission, it is certainly not a large magnitude; “but there is another important consideration: LNG is principally methane.”
“With methane recognised as a GHG and widely considered to be twenty-five times more harmful than CO2, it would only require a 4% slip through the supply chain to equal the CO2 emissions from the industry’s current consumption of heavy fuel oil,” Adams said.
Adams’ comments follow the recent decision by the International Maritime Organisation to adopt mandatory requirements for ships of 5000gt and above to collect consumption data for each type of fuel oil they use in order to provide information for future decisions on additional measures to reduce shipping’s greenhouse gas emissions.