Promoting Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as alternative fuel for ships

27 Aug 2015 14:55 Shipping News

Germany’s maritime sector has asked the federal government to implement specific measures in an effort to introduce liquefied natural gas as an alternative fuel for shipping. In a joint statement, the Maritime LNG Platform, the German Shipowners’ Association (VDR), the German Shipbuilding and Ocean Industries Association (VSM), the Association of German Seaport Operators (ZDS) and the German Shipbrokers’ Association (ZVDS) propose three separate instruments: Germany needs an innovation offensive, a subsidisation programme for equipping ships with LNG propulsion, and uniform legal standards in ports.
“LNG has great potential for maritime shipping to achieve significant reductions in emissions of sulphur, particulate matter, and nitrogen oxides in coastal regions and in the port cities. At the same time, LNG already meets emission regulations, both those currently in force and those tabled for introduction in the future,” said Georg Ehrmann, Managing Director of the Maritime LNG Platform, a cross-sector alliance of more than 70 national and international companies, associations, and ports. “The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure and the Maritime Coordinator of the Federal Government have recognized the importance of LNG for cleaner transport routes, which was highlighted in the coalition agreement and in the EU Directive ‘Clean Power for Transport’. The measures we are proposing here are key prerequisites for LNG to be able to succeed as an environmentally friendly fuel. Not only does the use of LNG offer increased protection of the environment; it also represents great opportunities for creating more added value and high-quality jobs for Germany as a business location.“
“The German shipbuilding industry has made a decisive contribution to the promotion of LNG as a clean alternative fuel, and it is currently in an ideal position to become a leader in the development of this technology and of this market,” said Dr Ralf Sören Marquardt, Managing Director of the German Shipbuilding and Ocean Industries Association (VSM). “With a concerted LNG initiative designed to promote the implementation of innovations and to close existing gaps in the regulatory framework, it will become feasible to achieve significant reductions in emissions in ports and waterways and to create high-quality jobs – and not only in coastal regions.”
“Without a comprehensive incentive scheme from the federal government for the construction and retrofitting of LNG-powered ships, it will not be possible to dismantle the barriers to market entry,” said Ralf Nagel, Chief Executive Officer of the German Shipowners’ Association (VDR). “Not a single LNG-powered ship has been commissioned without government subsidies throughout Europe to date. As a leading maritime nation, Germany ought to be taking on a pioneering role.” Ships that can use both conventional fuels as well as liquefied natural gas (dual-fuel drive) cost up to 25% more because of the special engines and the additional tanks and fuel lines required.
“Sufficient numbers of LNG-powered ships can achieve a measurable reduction in air pollution in port locations,” said Daniel Hosseus, Senior Managing Director of the Association of German Seaport Operators (ZDS). “The issue of LNG highlights the fact that we need a broadly based, consistent technology subsidisation scheme for maritime logistics. For this reason the federal government ought to reinstitute the successful research programme for innovative sea port technologies (ISETEC).”
“Refuelling of LNG ships must become a commonplace occurrence in German ports, too. To ensure that the ships can be cleared as efficiently as has been the case to date, it must be ensured that the bunkering process can be carried out at the same time as the loading and unloading of the ships,” said Dr Alexander Geisler, Managing Director of the German Shipbrokers‘ Association (ZVDS). “Germany needs uniform standards for handling LNG at sea ports, be it for bunkering, power generation or for transportation purposes.”
Because of the extensive safety regulations applicable worldwide and thanks to decades of experience in the transportation of LNG, ships powered by LNG have the best safety record of any type of vessel.

About LNG
LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) is natural gas cooled down to a temperature of minus 162 degrees Celsius, a process that turns it into a liquid that only takes up a fraction of the original volume and allows it to be transported in tanks and used as a maritime fuel. CO2 emissions of LNG are up to 25% lower than those of conventional fuels such as heavy fuel oil and diesel. LNG burns without producing emissions of sulphur or soot. It also produces up to 80% less nitrogen oxides.
The German Shipowners' Association (Verband Deutscher Reeder)
The German Shipowners' Association represents the common economic and social interests of the German shipping companies at the level of the federal and state governments as well as in relations with European and international bodies. Founded in 1907, it merged with the Association of German Coastal Ship Owners (Verband der Deutschen Küstenschiffseigner) in 1994. With around 180 members, it represents the majority of the German merchant fleet. More information available from


Ralf Nagel, Geschäftsführendes Präsidiumsmitglied

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