Sat | Dec 9, 2023

MTS supports Jamaica’s first ship-to-ship fuel transfer

Published:Tuesday | November 29, 2022 | 12:06 AM

Maritime & Transport Services Limited (MTS), a member of the Shipping Association of Jamaica, has supported Jamaica’s first ship-to-ship bunkering exercise of a vessel that is fuelled by liquefied natural gas (LNG). The vessel, the Solar Alice, received some 1,200 cubic metres of LNG bunkers from the Avenir Accolade, which is represented by MTS, on November 13, at Portland Bight, St Catherine.

The Avenir Accolade operates between Jamaica and Puerto Rico transporting LNG.

Maritime & Transport Services Limited was incorporated in April 1966 primarily as a steamship agency. The company provides ship agency, liner service sales, warehousing, oil spill equipment and bunkering. MTS operates from two locations – its head office in Newport West and a branch office opened in 1999 in the Montego Bay Trade Centre.

According to Kim Clarke, chairman of MTS, rules established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for the reduction of the environmental impact of ocean-going vessels will see an increase in the use of LNG as a fuel for ships. He added that Jamaica’s location in the central Caribbean provides a great opportunity for the island to be a refuelling location for vessels that use this environmentally friendly fuel source.

LNG emits less carbon dioxide than coal or oil. Natural gas is cooled to minus 162 degrees Celsius, which turns it into a liquid. Liquefaction reduces the volume to 1/600 of that of gas and enables it to be transported in large quantities by sea.

According to Clarke, “This operation is a milestone for our company and for our nation, and demonstrates the progress being made in our combined efforts to create a sustainable future for the shipping industry and the country as a whole.” He said it also demonstrates the diverse range of services that his company is committed to providing.

The volume of LNG trade, which plays a leading role in international gas trading, is expected to increase by 21 per cent in 2025, compared to 2019.

Demand for maritime transport is expected to continue to grow, supported by further increases in imports in the Asia-Pacific region and firm demand for imports in Europe.

LNG has recently been introduced as an alternative to heavy oil as a marine fuel. With the IMO ‘s tightening of sulfur oxides regulations introduced in January 2021, most ocean-going vessels now use low-sulfur heavy oil. However, the use of low-sulfur heavy oil does not change carbon dioxide emissions and is therefore inadequate in achieving the IMO goal of reducing CO2 emissions by more than 40 per cent in 2030, compared to 2008. For this reason, the introduction of LNG-fuelled vessels, which do not use heavy oil, is drawing attention in the shipping industry.

LNG is said to have a low environmental impact because it removes sulfur in the pre-liquefaction process, so it emits almost no sulfur oxides (SOx) or particulate matter when burned, and emits less nitrogen oxides NOx and CO2 than other fossil fuels. It is also relatively safe because its specific gravity is lighter than that of air and it is easy to diffuse, so there is less risk of explosion. In addition, its proven reserves surpass that of oil, and its ability to provide a stable, long-term supply for more than 50 years is a key advantage.

Globally, the number of LNG-fuelled vessels has increased from 18 completed vessels in 2010 to 175 currently in service, with more than 200 on order in 2020 (Reference: DNV GL). Most of the vessels in service are operated in Europe, and it is expected that the shift from heavy oil to LNG, or other alternative fuels, will be further accelerated as a result of the strengthening of SOx regulations in January 2020.