(EnergyAsia, August 8 2012, Wednesday) — Two German firms are planning to establish an equal joint venture company to develop infrastructure for the supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a marine fuel in Europe.

Bomin, a leading marine fuels supplier, and technology company The Linde Group aim to start up their Hamburg-based company later this year once it obtains antitrust clearance.

Bomin, a Marquard & Bahls subsidiary, will contribute through its global network and expertise as a marine fuels trader while Linde will offer its vast experience in cryogenics and engineering know-how.

The unnamed new company will aim to establish a supply chain to provide reliable, safe and environmentally friendly LNG fuel to ship owners and operators. It will establish operations in a number of key ports throughout newly established  ‘emissions control areas’ (ECAs) in northwestern Europe from January 1 2015.

Shipowners have to use cleaner fuels with the implementation of tougher environmental regulations to further reduce sulphur emissions from vessel operating in these ECAs.

LNG is deemed to be a much cleaner burning fuel than conventional heavy fuel oil as it emits very little sulphur and particulate matter, 80% to 85% less nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 20% to 25% less carbon dioxide (CO2).

The industry must establish a network of storage and refuelling facilities in main European harbours for LNG to become a viable and widely used marine fuel.

Claus-Georg Nette, a member of Marquard & Bahls AG’s executive board, said:

“With the new joint venture company we want to offer LNG to ship owners as an alternative energy source with a lower environmental impact than traditional bunker fuels. The know-how combination of Bomin and Linde will enable us to offer attractive solutions in this emerging market.”

Peter Schreiber, Bomin Group’s CEO, said:

“Bomin is committed to the bunker business on a global scale. Combining our expertise in bunkering with Linde’s gases and engineering know-how adds support to the emerging LNG-fuel market. As this partnership shows, Bomin is determined to remain innovative, offering multiple fuelling solutions wherever we can.”

Aldo Belloni, a member of Linde AG’s executive board, said:

“A readily available and cost-effective LNG infrastructure is key to the development of LNG as a maritime fuel. This new joint venture underpins our LNG strategy, already visible in our recent opening of the LNG terminal in Stockholm harbour and our study for the introduction of LNG with the Hamburg Port Authority.”

Earlier this year, Linde secured the LNG delivery contract for the natural gas-powered “Viking Grace” ferry from the Finland-based Viking Line.

In 2015, some 70 vessels are expected to operate on LNG fuel in the Nordic region. According to a study by the Danish Maritime Authority, the region has the potential to consume four million tonnes of the fuel a year by 2020.

With global sales of nearly 13.8 billion euro last year, the Linde Group is a world-leading gases and engineering company with around 51,000 employees in more than 100 countries.

Bomin is a leading independent trader and supplier of bunker and marine fuels with a global network and more than 35 years of experience.