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Gas against oil
Material posted: Publication date: 27-11-2018
The tightening of international requirements to ship fuel to Russia poses new challenges. The energy Ministry plans to subsidize producers of low sulfur fuel oil, SCF relies on LNG, "Atomflot" called for the construction of powerful nuclear icebreakers, and the world shipping community still considers "fuel" the future is uncertain.

The international Maritime organization (IMO, IMO) plans from January 1, 2020 to enter the global limit for sulphur content in marine fuel to 0.5%. Currently, the limit is 3.5%, while in areas of special control of emissions from ships (ECA), which includes the Baltic, from 1 January 2015, the limit is 0.1%. Also recently became aware of the promotion plans for establishment of ECA zones in the Mediterranean. In a number of regions (including in EU waters, the coastal zone of the United States and Canada) introduced its own national limits.

This regulation creates difficulties for the shipping industry, as the use of traditional high-sulfur marine fuel becomes problematic. To meet the new requirements, you must either use a system cleaning fuel sulphur (scrubbers) or use alternative fuels, most popular of which is liquefied natural gas (LNG are less common methanol, biofuel, etc.).

Scrubbers though, and allows you to use cheaper high-sulphur fuel oil, but it has its disadvantages associated with the high price of these systems, their complexity, and also problems with the disposal of waste substances.

In addition, the IMO discussed measures for further tightening of the fuel and the engine in terms of emissions of nitrogen oxides and greenhouse gases. So, the first strategy is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships was adopted by the Committee of IMO's marine environment protection in April 2018. At the end of October 2018 Committee decided to start in 2019, the discussion of issues related to practical short-term measures to reduce emissions. It is expected that by 2030, it is necessary to reduce CO2 emissions in Maritime transport by 40%.

According to General Director, Chairman of the Board of PAO "Sovcomflot" Sergey Frank, which he expressed in the framework of the sectoral conference "Sea and river transport – system element of the backbone infrastructure" in the framework of "Transport week" in Moscow, "in five or six years we will have a limit on the greenhouse gases CO2, and sub-standard solutions like scrubbers, life will be overturned." Therefore, Sovcomflot is betting on LNG as a marine fuel.

Plans "Sovkomflotand" resonate with the state policy in the Arctic, as earlier the President of Russia Vladimir Putin has supported the idea of using LNG as a marine fuel in the Arctic instead of petroleum products.

However, according to those present at the conference the head of "Atomflot" Vyacheslav rukshi in the Arctic can not do without atomic energy as to ensure year-round navigation with maintaining commercial speed in 10-12 knots here needs a powerful nuclear-powered icebreakers. "Icebreakers with a capacity of less than 40 MW in the Arctic is nothing to do", - said Vyacheslav Ruksha.

On the other hand, in the global shipping community yet there is no consensus on what solutions will be most in demand in part of marine fuel in the future.

So, in the course of trade fairs in Hamburg SMM-2018 on this account, different views were expressed. According to the Vice-President Marine Solutions (Wartsila) Aaron Bresnahan "attitude to scrubbing systems becomes more positive. Production capacity continues to grow and surprise us... the Ongoing uncertainty in the regulation of the problem will mean that we will get not the cheapest solution for the economy, but ultimately, the market will come into balance. The technology will be available for any choice of shipowners. We support the LNG, despite the fact that the process of transition slowed due to the classic problem of supply and demand. In this sense, a step forward in this direction was the choice (in favor) of the large shipowners, because we need a developed infrastructure of LNG for larger vessels."

According to the Executive Director of EURONAV paddy Rogers, "the scrubbers does not constitute a licence for the burning of fuel oil. You will have to tell us about what you are doing. I think we're heading into territory that is similar to the rules for separators cleaning of petroleum-contaminated water, where you can be punished regardless of fuel burned. The idea that scrubbers give you the "green light" is wrong."

Director of Maritime transport, shipowners ' Association of Germany Wolfgang Hinze said: "this is one of the biggest problems faced by shipowners, but I am fully convinced that the industry will do everything possible to meet the requirements. We can only assume the extent of the problem and the amount of costs, before talking about what fuel we will use in the future."

The Deputy Secretary-General BIMCO Mr. Lars Robert Pederson noted that "the problem of 2020 will be the quality of the fuel mixture and we will be faced with a large number of cases with low quality fuel."

According to Executive Vice President of ABS kersee Tikka, "the industry still has no understanding of the impact of regulatory requirements after 2020, and what choices will be the most effective."

Previously one of the largest shipping companies in the world Maersk Line said that the additional costs for the global container shipping industry after 2020 could amount to $15 billion a year to ensure compliance with new IMO requirements.

The Russian response

Note that the number of refineries in Russia already produce low sulfur fuel oil (marine environmental fuel) for bunkering vessels in the Baltic, as the sales of this fuel are growing. It is also clear that the demand for this fuel after January 1, 2020 can increase dramatically. To Russia has not faced a shortage of this fuel, the government in the framework of the tax maneuver in the oil industry is planning to subsidize its manufacturers. As explained by the "PortNews", the Deputy Minister of energy of Russia Pavel Sorokin, the subsidy will amount to 1 thousand rubles per ton, while in the far East, the grant will be higher than 1 thousand rubles, and the requirements for the sulphur content of the fuel is softer (the specific parameters of subsidies for the Far East, the official did not specify). Pavel Sorokin stressed that the shortage of marine low sulfur fuel in Russia is not expected.

"In the framework of the tax maneuver, which from 1 January will operate, we provide a Supplement for the production of marine fuels with low sulphur content, and in the Baltic basin, and the far East, where the fee will be more as they require higher investment in manufacturing," said Pavel Sorokin.

A simple choice

The determining factor that contributes to the development of LNG bunkering industry in Russia is access to the resource, namely gas. When you consider that the bulk of cargo transportation by Russian sea transport will carry out in the Arctic, and its bulk will be made up of LNG, the choice becomes even more obvious.

Indeed, the Russian shipowners are increasingly focused on LNG as a fuel of the future. "The use of LNG as a marine fuel will become a real alternative to traditional fuel – diesel fuel and fuel oil. In my opinion, the use of new technologies in the shipping industry to use LNG as a marine fuel, will contribute to the development and improvement of technologies in the shipping industry, the shipbuilding industry and the Russian gas industry", - said the President of the Russian chamber of shipping Alexey Klyavin during the II conference "the LNG fleet LNG bunkering in Russia", organized by the "PortNews".

An obstacle to the introduction of LNG in Maritime transport in Russia is the lack of bunkering infrastructure and vessels, specialized barges as temporary circuits (for example, dressing autotrace) do not provide adequate speed when bunkering large volumes.

According to Sergey Frank, it is appropriate to establish LNG bunkering infrastructure in the Baltic ports, Murmansk, Saratov and Sakhalin, i.e. in the zone of the ECA and the main points of the Northern sea route, which already has direct access to the resource.

Earlier also there have been proposals to establish centers for bunkering of LNG on inland waterways vessels for river-sea navigation, this is an issue for a more distant perspective. However, in the case of the establishment of ECA zones in the Mediterranean sea the emergence of such points may be more justified than today.

From projects that are currently the closest to implementation, there are two small-scale LNG production in the port of Vysotsk (Leningrad oblast), which is scheduled to start in late 2018 and use, including, for the purposes of bunkering vessels: "kriogaz-Vysotsk" and LNG production at COP "Port".

There are in Russia and their own development of specialized tankers, LNG bunker suppliers of different capacity, made of Krylov state research centre.

However, some of the questions in this part are still not quite clear: for example, what company will have the right to supply LNG to bunkering, how it will be implemented antitrust policy in this area, whether there would be price regulation.

Vitaliy Chernov


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