For Petronet, ships running on LNG offer hope
Underutilisation of Kochi LNG terminal due to few takers for natural gas has become a concern for Petronet LNG Ltd.
However supplying this natural gas as fuel to ocean going ships through LNG bunkering from its Puthuvypeen terminal may prove beneficial to the company to shore up its revenues.
There has been an increasing demand for setting up such fuelling facilities worldwide due to stringent emission norms in various countries for fuels used in ships.
In anticipation of getting LNG as fuel, a newly launched vessel KVITBJORN has called at Kochi Port directly from Singapore yard for its maiden voyage to Europe. The ship designed to run on LNG fuel will be operating in the Baltic and North Sea region.
It is presently anchored in Q-7 berth of Kochi Port and it requires 140 tonnes of this green oil. But the facilities in Kochi LNG terminal were not equipped to meet the demand.
PLL officials are busy carrying out some technical modifications and fuel supply will start tomorrow. Because of the small size of the ship, additional tugs will be used for bunkering operations. If the venture proves successful, Kochi can expect at least 50 vessels this year fetching more revenue to the port as well as for PLL, official sources in the port said.
They told Business Line that LNG bunkering has emerged as a new avenue in the global maritime sector due to stringent emission norms implemented by several countries on passing merchant ships using heavy fuel oil (HFO). This has forced many vessels to look for alternate fuels especially those trading mainly within the Emission Control Areas on the either coast of North America as well as the Baltic and North seas of Europe.
In view of the reduced emissions compared to heavy bunker oil and low sulphur marine diesel, the sources said LNG has emerged as an accepted marine fuel for several shipping lines. Today there are about 100 LNG powered ships operating worldwide besides the 400 odd LNG carriers.
The reduced LNG cost combined with lower emissions gives the natural gas an advantage in ships operating costs. However the infrastructure to provide LNG as bunkers has not developed in any of the terminal facilities in Asia, the sources said.
For this reason, the vessel KVITBJORN berthed at Kochi looking for LNG bunkering. It needs to bunker at various locations in the world to reach its final destination in Europe.
“If everything goes well, Kochi after being the first port in India to handle containers in the 70’s will become the first port to supply LNG bunkers to ships in the whole Indian Ocean region”, the sources added.