Shipowner backs LNG “until zero emission solution is found”

Arista Shipping founder Alexander Panagopulos has defended LNG’s environmental credentials in the wake of a challenge by Norwegian research institute SINTEF Ocean.

As reported last week, SINTEF has disputed greenhouse gas emission (GHG) figures published in a study commissioned by LNG lobby groups. The challenge contends that, because of methane slip, LNG only improves GHG emissions when used in high-pressure, two-stroke engines. But Panagopulos told Fathom that Arista and partners in an LNG ship consortium agreed with the findings of the initial study.

Forward Ships has designed a gas-fuelled bulk carrier with companies including Wärtsilä, ABS and Deltamarin and is now seeking a newbuild contract with a shipyard. The group considered methane slip carefully when designing its vessel and fuelling arrangements and had still chosen LNG as “the clear winner”, said Panagopulos.

“Until a zero-emission solution is invented for long-range, deep ocean shipping for big cargo ships – and this becomes commercially and financially viable – there is simply no other solution other than LNG,” he said.

Project Forward has also calculated that its LNG-fuelled design can reach IMO’s CO2 emission target for 2050 – if carbon-neutral fuels can be blended with LNG at that stage. Calculations by naval architect Deltamarin show that the design could cut CO2 emissions by the 70% targeted by IMO if the ships can run on a blend of 45% LNG and 55% carbon-neutral fuel.

“Through the advanced engine technology available today, LNG has a clearly superior well-to-wake emissions profile compared to liquid fuel. LNG appears not as a transition fuel, but the fuel of tomorrow and for many years to come,” said Arista technical director and Forward Ships chief technology officer Antonis Trakakis.

The original study was conducted by Thinkstep and commissioned by SEA\LNG and the Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF). The groups have yet to respond publicly to the arguments in the SINTEF challenge.

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