The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration has allocated $1.4 million for two projects that will collect information on the use of liquefied natural gas as a marine propulsion and study the issues associated with shore-side storage and fueling of LNG vessels.
Through a partnership agreement, Marad will provide Horizon Lines with $900,000 to assist in the conversion and monitoring of their vessel, Horizon Spirit, to operate on LNG. Conversion of the container ship, which operates between Long Beach, Calif., and Honolulu, is slated for completion in late 2015.
For the second project, Marad will provide $500,000 for an LNG study conducted by the U.S. subsidiary of Det Norske Veritas to analyze the challenges associated with bunkering and the landslide infrastructure needed to store and distribute LNG. This project is expected to be finished by spring 2014.
The two recipients were chosen in a competitive process to partner with Marad as part of a new program to demonstrate innovative technologies and practices and share data on the results.
“Fuel-efficient ships appeal to the maritime industry for the exact same reasons that fuel-efficient cars appeal to consumers — they’re easy on the environment and their pocketbooks,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, in a written statement. “The Obama administration is committed to protecting our environment and reducing pollution, and the information we’ll gather from these projects will help us strengthen America’s clean energy economy.”
“The maritime industry is taking important steps to reduce vessel air emissions,” added Paul N. Jaenichen, acting maritime administrator. “Using clean energy means green efficient transportation and a better environment for mariners who work aboard these vessels and others who work in the maritime industry and communities.”
LNG may soon be the fuel of choice for shipping lines operating in environmentally sensitive sulfur emissions control zones. The North American Emissions Control Area, which took effect last year under the MARPOL convention, requires that vessels operating within 200 miles of the coast line must burn fuel with a sulfur content of no more than 1 percent, but that restriction will drop to 0.10 percent on Jan. 1, 2015. LNG meets the current and future ECA requirements for low sulfur fuel.
Other countries have also been preparing for the increased use of LNG in the shipping industry. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore just released its study on LNG bunkering in the Port of Singapore, and earlier this year, Canada invested $1.2 million in a project studying LNG as a marine fuel.