Dutch Ship Owners to Fuel Their Fleets with LNG

Dutch ship owners, public transport operators and road transport companies will fuel their fleets with Liquefied Natural Gas. At the international congress ‘LNG for Transport’, installation of the Netherlands’ first LNG hub was announced at the harbour of northern port Harlingen.

Suppliers of the fuel and the installations needed for it, got together with government and transporters at the conference to agree on enabling, delivering and using the green fuel.

Following presentations about experience with LNG as a fuel for shipping in Norway, targeting safety, legislation and distribution, the atmosphere at the congress was thrilled with anticipation. Compared to diesel, LNG causes 30 percent less carbon dioxide (CO²) emissions, 92 percent less nitrogen oxide (Nox) emissions and even totally eliminates sulphur (SOx) and soot emissions. Crucial for the implementation is the fact that liquefied natural gas cost less then diesel oil. Therefore, investment on transition of existing engines or the extra cost of building new engines fit for LNG can be earned back through more economic operating cost.

Of course, natural gas is a fossil fuel. Yet, setting up an infrastructure for LNG opens the way for transition towards totally renewable fuels when the production of Bio-LNG is intensified. Bio-LNG can be produced from organic waste, but is not available in sufficient volume to power the transport sector. Natural gas is available in large volumes, with the gas fields in the Netherlands and the newly opened terminal at Rotterdam harbour GATE (Gas Access To Europe).

Transition from diesel oil to LNG as a transport fuel requires investment. Fuel distributors dare not to invest largely on distribution systems as long as there are no transport companies using LNG. Transporters can not transfer to LNG when there is no guaranteed supply of the fuel. Despite the optimism of the green potential of the fuel, industry was caught in a classic ‘chicken and egg’ situation.

At the congress, a breakthrough was established. Technical service providers Cofely Netherlands and Electrabel Netherlands have set up a new company that will establish and exploit an LNG hub at Harlingen harbour. Local and regional government will enable legislation and stimulate the innovation programs to design an efficient distribution network. Ferry company Doeksen, maintaining connections between Harlingen and the Frisian Isles north of the Unesco Natural reserve of the Waddenzee, can now realise their long time wish to build a green ferry. Road transport companies and public transport companies have set targets to transfer to LNG. Their launching customership and the persistence of Cofely GDF Suez’ business developer Leon Sluiman to get all parties together, resulted in the official launch of LNG as a transport fuel for the Netherlands.

LNG TR&D (say Trend) foundation was also launched at the congress. Three technical universities in the Netherlands, knowledge institute TNO and Dutch metrology institute VSL join in the foundation to research and develop technology to establish a standardised distribution network. The end result would be LNG available at filling and bunker stations all throughout the country. Standardisation is of course crucial in establishing availability for large groups of transport companies and even car drives. The new foundation is to get innovation subsidies worth of 2 million euros.

The municipalities of the Waddenzee Isles commit to establishing durable and self supplying energy systems by 2020. They call upon the ship owners operating at the Waddenzee with its tender ecosystem to transfer to LNG now that it is available from the main port of this part of the North Sea. In the initiative Super Green Deals, Cofely GDF Suez and gas production and distribution company Gasunie challenge all the regional ship owners and transport companies to transfer to LNG, and they will secure sufficient supply of the fuel. Growing response to their action call may enable the first LNG hub of the Netherlands to develop towards a large regional distribution centre.


Source: maritimebyholland, October 10, 2011;