The Challenge of LNG for the Italian Shipbuilding Industry. Prospectives, Oppurtunities and Current Intiatives
In recent years there has been a significant increase in orders for ships capable of using LNG as a fuel. According to the DNV GL, the number of LNG powered ships (plying the seas) will double by 2018, in comparison to the current 50 units. Indeed, at the start of the year, projects already commissioned and delivered between 2014 and 2018 included 53 ships bought primarily by North European and North American ship owners. Looking ahead, a further acceleration is expected with up to 1,000 LNG powered ships in operation by 2020.
This trend is essentially driven both by the environmental regulations of the International Maritime Organization and UE, which entail the progressive reduction of pollutant emissions by the ships and by the medium and long term prospectives on availability and cheapness of natural gas at the international level. As of January 1, 2015 in the Emission Control Areas (ECA: Baltic Sea, English Channel, North Sea, North America, Caribbean Sea) sulphur content limits on maritime fuels will decrease to 0,1% (from 1%), whereas from January 1, 2020 in other seas of the UE they will decrease to 0.5% (from 3.5%). As demonstrated by the choice of North European ship owners, the use of LNG represents the most efficient prospective for new ships, whereas the use of diesel fuel with a concentration of 0,1% and abatement systems of traditional fuels seem to be a temporary solution for the management of the transition. The combustion of natural gas does not produce sulphur and also allows for the dramatic reduction in particulate emissions and nitrogen oxides, as well as reducing CO2 emissions by 20-30% in comparison to traditional fossil fuels.
The development of LNG combustion in global transportation and the upcoming penetration in the Mediterranean area represent a challenge for the Italian shipbuilding industry, which is called upon to confirm and relaunch its reputation for innovation and worldwide excellence, within a context where the quality of products prevails over the cost of labor. According to ConferenzaGNL, the national shipbuilding industry is prepared to face future competition while the numerous announced initiatives will be able to resolve in a relatively short time the critical issues still remaining regarding refueling logistics. Italy has taken a first step in the field with the production of the ferry “F.-A.-Gauthier” by Fincantieri, a diesel LNG dual fuel powered vehicle, which is ready to be delivered to Sociètè des traversiers du Quèbec (STQ). Produced at Castellamare di Stabia, it is the latest-generation ship for maritime passenger transportation and the first one to use LNG for this service in North America. Other Italian boatyards are including LNG-powered ships in their portfolios. Nevertheless, Fincantieri is unique in Italy until now. At the same time, in the Mediterranean Countries, there are important initiatives such as the construction, in Sanmar (Turkey), of the first two tug boats, powered solely by LNG, for a Norwegian ship owner. The workshop organized by ConferenzaGNL in collaboration with the Port Authority in Genoa, was intended to take stock of the prospectives for European, Mediterranean, and global supply and demand which could be interesting for the national shipbuilding industry by bringing together the key players in the (supply) chain.Autorità Portuale di Genova, Palazzo San Giorgio – Via della Mercanzia, 2, Genoa