LNG-fueled Ships Becoming Common
Tallink Grupp and Containerships have ordered new LNG-fuelled ships. While the price difference between LNG and marine diesel oil has decreased, both of the companies see LNG as a fuel for the future due to its lower emissions.
A special moment was celebrated in early August at the Meyer Turku Shipyard when the blade of a cutting machine made contact with a thick steel plate underwater in a large basin. As sparks flew, the piece that was cut from the steel plate became the first component of AS Tallink Grupp’s new LNG passenger and car ferry. The first piece will ultimately be placed on the side of the ship.
Invited guests, builders, designers and Tallink Grupp representatives then had the opportunity to sign the plate, which will eventually be attached to the finished vessel.
Tallink Grupp CEO Janek Stalmeister said the ship will be a forerunner for the next-generation fast ferries on the Helsinki−Tallinn route.
Also satisfied were the representatives of the shipyard, whose order book is currently the strongest in their entire history.
“This order increases the 2016 production volume of the Turku Shipyard by 30 per cent compared to 2015,” explained Jan Meyer, CEO of Meyer Turku Oy.
The Tallink ship is the second LNG vessel to be built in Turku. According to the representatives of the shipyard, this ship will feature newer solutions than Viking Line’s MS Viking Grace. For example, the fuel tanks will be located inside the ship. On MS Viking Grace they are at the back of the ship.
The new Tallink ship will be approximately 212 metres in length, with a gross tonnage of 49,000 tonnes. Approximately 300 new crew members will be needed to serve the ship’s 2,800 passengers. The ship will take two hours to cover the distance between Tallinn and Helsinki at a speed of 27 knots.
The price of the ship is approximately EUR 230 million. Tallink is funding the order by a long-term loan of EUR 184 million granted by Nordea Bank and guaranteed by Finnvera.
Fuelled by LNG, the ship complies with the new and stricter emission regulations for the ECA areas including the Baltic Sea. It offers significantly improved energy efficiency compared to Tallink’s current fast ferries, partly due to its hull shape designed to minimise flow resistance. The ship can also operate in icy conditions.
Efficient loading and unloading
To facilitate fast turnarounds, the ship’s design supports efficient and rapid loading and unloading in ports.
“LNG was a logical choice for us, considering the stricter environmental regulations in maritime transport. Our other ships use low-sulphur fuel, but we wanted our new ship to be even more environmentally friendly,” says Luulea Lääne, Communication Director at Tallink Grupp.
Negotiations on where the ship will be refuelled have not been completed yet.
The construction of the ship has progressed on schedule. The keel will be laid down in late 2015, and the completed ship will be delivered in early 2017.
The new fast ferry will be served by the new terminal in Helsinki’s West Harbour. Driving cars on board using two loading ramps will reduce the turnaround time to two hours. Improvements to terminals are also being planned at the Tallinn end.
Six LNG ships for Containerships
New LNG ships will also be introduced in container traffic.
According to Pekka Järnefelt, Fleet Manager at Containerships Ltd, the company has ordered a series of six LNG-fuelled 1,400 TEU ice-class vessels. The ships are built in China. The first of the ships will begin operating in early 2017, with the rest to follow at 3−4 month intervals.
The supply of LNG in Europe will increase significantly.
“This is a long-term investment. The ships are built to be operated for 20−25 years. The supply of LNG in Europe will increase significantly in just the next few years. Environmental awareness is constantly increasing, and the technology we have selected is the ideal solution for meeting this need,” Järnefelt explains.
The ships will use Wartsilä’s low-speed Dual Fuel engines as their main engines. Järnefelt lauds the technology as superior to all other feasible options with regard to carbon dioxide emissions, nitrogen oxides and small particle emissions.
In addition to the choice of fuel, the design of the ship involves a high priority on fuel economy. The ship can cover some 4,000 miles on a full tank of LNG.
“In addition to the ships, our investment programme includes LNG-fuelled lorries that enable us to offer a complete door-to-door logistics solution. The company currently has three LNG-fuelled lorries.
Containerships was also a pioneer in the installation of sulphur scrubbers.
“We currently operate five ships equipped with scrubbers. The dramatic decline in oil price coincided with the entry into force of the Sulphur Directive, which has naturally reduced the profitability of these investments. Nevertheless, the use of scrubbers is still profitable compared to the use of low-sulphur oil-based fuel,” Järnefelt concludes.