(EnergyAsia, September 16 2011, Friday) — Wartsila, the Finland-based marine solutions provider, said it and Shell Oil Company have signed a multi-year agreement to jointly promote the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a marine fuel.

Supplies of low cost, low emissions LNG fuel will be made available to Wartsila’s natural gas-powered vessel operators, and other customers by Shell. The agreement will focus first on supplies from the US Gulf Coast, and then later expand their efforts to cover a broader geographical range.

((ADSENSE)) Gas-fuelled marine engines are seen as being a logical means for ship owners and operators to comply with increasingly stringent environmental legislation. This agreement aims at increasing and easing the availability of natural gas for marine engine use, as well as developing the supply chain and infrastructure to facilitate the bunkering of LNG fuel.

The two companies will jointly develop the marine markets to enhance its rapid introduction and use.

Wartsila has been developing dual-fuel engine technology, allowing the same engine to be operated on both gas and diesel fuel. This dual-fuel capability means that when running in gas mode, the environmental impact is minimized since nitrogen oxides (NOx) are reduced by some 85% compared to diesel operation, sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions are completely eliminated as gas contains no sulphur, and emissions of CO2 are also lowered. Natural gas has no residuals, and thus the production of particulates is practically non-existent.

In addition to the environmental benefits that LNG fuel offers, the shipping industry is increasingly looking to gas as a means of reducing operating costs. With fossil fuel prices, and especially the cost of low carbon marine fuel, likely to continue to escalate, gas is an obvious economic alternative.

In promoting gas propulsion, Wartsila said the two companies aim to reduce client risk in the hope of accelerating market demand.

“It’s an exciting time for the industry to have Shell, a major player, committed to increasing the availability of clean natural gas as a marine fuel. The marine community is becoming increasingly aware of the benefits provided by Wartsila natural gas engines as a means of reducing both costs and the environmental footprint. Natural gas engines represent a rare “win-win”, capturing emissions reduction and operational savings,” said Christoph Vitzthum, Wartsila Services’s Group Vice President.

Jaakko Eskola, Wartsila Ship Power’s Group Vice President, said:

“Clean, safe natural gas represents a true shipping paradigm shift; years ago it was sail to steam, then came the move from steam to diesel, and now it’s a new era for gas propulsion.

David Lawrence, Shell’s executive vice president for Exploration and Commercial, said:

“We are pleased to work with Wartsila to move forward with this significant step in introducing LNG-powered vessels into the US market, providing a clean, abundant and affordable fuel option.”