GAS Energy Australia says the approval of Australia’s first LNG marine bunker may lead to cleaner running vessels operating out of the country’s ports.

The downstream gas industry industry welcomed the recent announcement that EVOL LNG will bunker Australian LNG at Fremantle Port.

“Having cleaner, cheaper LNG available for ships at Fremantle Port will encourage cleaner running LNG ships from all over the world to stop and refuel at Fremantle, and with LNG producing significantly less emissions, it’s good for the Australian environment” Gas Energy Australia CEO, John Griffiths, said.

“At the moment, most ships and vessels in Australian waters are running on diesel oil and bunker oil which are polluting our pristine Australian waters and air.

“While comparable countries around the world are acting on both carbon and other pollutants, Australia runs the real risk for being the dumping ground for old technology clunkers.

“This investment comes after the announcement from Woodside that it had signed a five-year charter contract with Siem Offshore Australia Pty Ltd to deliver Australia’s first LNG-powered marine support vessel next year.

“The number of LNG-fuelled ships in operation is increasing as more and more people demand cleaner fuel sources.”

“With continued investment from companies like EVOL LNG, Australia can use its abundant natural gas resources to lead the world in natural gas fuel technology.”

“We expect to see LNG bunkering facilities continue to expand across Australia, particularly on the east coast to support the LNG powered SeaRoad vessel that will start operating between Victoria and Tasmania later this year.”

EVOL LNG, a subsidiary of Wesfarmers Chemicals Energy & Fertilisers and managed by Kleanheat, says it is looking to develop bunkering facilities at other major Australian ports.

EVOL LNG said the approval to establish Australia’s first marine LNG bunker comes after Woodside announced in April that it had singed a five-year charter contract with Norwegian company Siem Offshore Australia Pty Ltd to deliver Australia’s first LNG-powered marine support vessel next year.

The availability of LNG as a bunker fuel, which will be delivered from EVOL LNG’s Kwinana LNG plant, will pave the way for LNG-fuelled ships to visit the port, and provide the option for local ferries and workboats to switch to the lower-cost, lower-emission fuel.

It will also see Fremantle Port become part of a growing global LNG bunkering network which includes major ports in Europe, North America, Qatar, Singapore, Japan and Korea as well as more than 40 other ports from around the world which bunker LNG, or have plans to do so.

EVOL LNG’s business manager, Nick Rea, said he was confident that global fleet of LNG-fuelled ships would continue to grow, and that EVOL LNG was well placed to support the growth.

“Our decision to provide LNG bunkering to the shipping industry is based on a long-term strategy,” Mr Rea said.

“Over the past decade, we’ve seen the number of LNG-fuelled ships in operation worldwide increase steadily from a handful to more than 70, with an additional 80 to be built in coming years.”

Mr Rea said that growth had largely been driven by the introduction of emission regulations, such as Emission Control Areas in Europe and North America, and the expectation of better returns than by operating on low-sulphur fuels or installing exhaust scrubber systems.

“LNG is a cleaner fuel than marine diesel, emitting 25 percent less carbon dioxide, less nitrogen oxides, almost zero sulphur oxides, as well as fewer harmful particulates,” Mr Rea said.

The company says it can supply LNG at a price that is competitive with low sulphur marine diesel and can refuel ships at up to 45 tonnes per hour of LNG, which is comparable to refuelling with traditional bunker fuels.