Judging by the numbers, container shipping and LNG is something of a love-hate relationship. The total number of LNG-fuelled ships on order, ready for conversion or already operating totals 93 container vessels – more than any other ship type. Focusing on the number of LNG-powered ships at sea, however, container shipping is far behind.
For Hapag-Lloyd, investments in LNG are not a question of love and hate, but about good entrepreneurship. LNG is one of several technologies that is set to make shipping greener and that ought to be tried out. While the rapid technological change seen by the industry may cause concern for some people, being open and choosing the right moment to invest is what good companies are all about. Companies should be enthusiastic about the opportunities, as opposed to concerned about the risks.
Hapag-Lloyd has good reason to strike a positive tone. The company is spending US$30 million – approximately one-quarter of its 1Q19 profit – to take one of its largest vessels, the 15 000 TEU Sajir, to a Shanghai shipyard for more than three months from May 2020, forcing the carrier and its four Asian alliance partners to balance out a longer than usual downtime on the high-volume East–West trade lane through other services. But it is for a good reason, as dockworkers at the Huarun Dadong shipyard will convert Sajir’s existing conventional engine to a dual-fuel system that will allow the five-year-old vessel to burn LNG and, as a backup, low-sulfur fuel. The planned works include the installation of a DNV GL approved gas storage system covering an area equivalent to 290 containers.
“What many people don’t realise is that it’s not simply a new filter that’s being installed; technically, we’re completely reinventing the wheel here,” said Captain Richard von Berlepsch, Managing Director Fleet Management at Hapag-Lloyd. “It may be compared to the moment when steam boats replaced sailing ships.” The conversion, which is to follow several months of preparatory steel work by yard workers in China, will enable the Sajir to cut its CO2 emissions by approximately 20%, while reducing sulfur dioxide and particulate matter by more than 90% once it returns to its route from Asia to northern Europe via the Suez Canal.
With the retrofit, Hapag-Lloyd, as well as its project partners, including DNV GL and engine maker MAN, are breaking new ground: never before has a containership of that size been converted to LNG propulsion. As the shipping industry is set to face increasingly stringent emissions rules in the years ahead, Hapag-Lloyd’s pilot may well be paving the way for similar retrofits in the future.
This is an abridged version of an article that was originally published in the August 2019 issue of LNG Industry. The full version can be read here.
Read the article online at: https://www.lngindustry.com/liquid-natural-gas/14082019/reinventing-the-wheel/