Is LNG feasible as propulsion energy? A case study on container vessels operating in the North European ECA

Mats Gripsrud Laaveg

Student thesis: Master thesis


The objective of this thesis is to assess the feasibility of using LNG as a marine fuel for container ships that fully operates in the North European emission control area (N-E ECA), and to see under which circumstances it will be the most attractive abatement strategy when complying with future ECA regulations. In particular, this paper seeks to examine the challenges and enablers for LNG, and to study if it is more or less suitable than other abatement technologies on the market. LNG is one of three main abatement strategies that comply with the regulations of IMO with less ship emission to the surroundings. Among the various regulations established by IMO throughout history, this report will in particular consider air emissions from container vessels and specifically the regulations of MARPOL Annex VI from 2005. It offers the reasons to the environmental friendly requirements imposed by the IMO and presents the characteristics of LNG as a possible ameliorative solution. Natural gas as marine fuel has however a significant obstacle by not being compatible with the existing standard of petroleum related fuel oils. For that reason it can be perceived as a disruptive innovation with the requirement of going through a ‘standards war’ before it can become the new conventionally used marine fuel in the market. This report will for that reason also discuss the necessary elements that must be in place for the survival of disruptive innovations in the maritime industry. The analyses of this dissertation have come to the conclusion that LNG as fuel for container ships offers significant environmental improvements as well as cost-competitive properties related to its competitive fuel oils of HFO and MGO. It has however significant barriers in the lack of bunkering infrastructure, high investment cost, and loss in cargo space, but will most likely overcome these difficulties due to a likely increase in LNG infrastructure development, low fuel cost and a higher energy content compared to its competitive fuel oils. Altogether, this report comes to the conclusion that LNG will offer more attractive offerings to consumers than the incumbent standard, and will because of this win the standards war to become the new marine fuel of the future. This study therefore indicates that using LNG as propulsion energy is highly recommendable for container ships.

EducationsMSc in Applied Economics and Finance, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2013
Number of pages84