The WLPGA publishes the Guide for the supply of LPG marine fuel

15 November 2019

The WLPGA continues its commitment to a cleaner environment with a new report “LPG Fuel Supply – Guide to LPG Marine Fuel Supply”, dedicated to the use of LPG in the marine sector, in particular bunker supply.
Growing concern about the environmental impact of traditional fuels, such as HFO, is leading shipping companies to switch to alternative fuel options and solutions. The search for sustainable alternatives to traditional fuels has increased in recent years in light of the IMO 2020 initiative and the International Maritime Organization's strategy to reduce overall carbon emissions from the shipping sector by 50% by 2020.

LPG is a key element for IMO 2050 and as a fuel it takes care of IMO sulfur regulation forever. The new report, released during the Global LPG Forum in Amsterdam in September 2019, aims to improve understanding in the maritime sector of issues related to LPG fueling of ships. The report highlights that LPG is becoming the preferred fuel solution for LPG carriers. Other key areas addressed include design issues, current thinking on possible solutions to regulatory requirements, safeguards and safe practices, as well as important areas of operational processes and training.

As the marine sector is under pressure to adopt emission reduction measures in order to comply with the IMO 2020 standard, LPG can make significant advances in the marine fuel market. LPG propulsion, starting with the LPG ship industry, must go beyond a niche fuel option to achieve the broader maritime industry acceptance it so highly deserves.

The fuel supply and distribution infrastructure is largely available to meet potential marine market demand (versus other alternative fuels for which the infrastructure still needs to be developed), and engine technology has been developed for a wide range of powers, which require a lower investment cost compared to other alternatives.
LPG, while new as a fuel for marine propulsion, is a fuel well known to the maritime industry thanks to its more than 50 years of experience in storage, transport and handling.

In the near future, economic incentives will attract more ship owners and operators to invest in LPG-fueled fleets. When the 2020 IMO sulfur cap takes effect, the price of qualifying fuel and the availability of HFO for scrubber-equipped vessels will be uncertain. LPG engine technology is now available and the use of dual fuel engines also allows operators during the journey, depending on price, to use LPG or compliant fuel, whichever is more economical. The report shows that the LPG infrastructure is already in place for LPG fueling anywhere in the world. Supplies are also plentiful, especially due to increased production from the US.

LPG fueling can be done in a number of ways, from terminals, refineries, onshore trucks, small LPG transport vessels or barges. There are more than 1,000 LPG storage facilities around the world that can be used for LPG fueling, and more than 700 small LPG vessels that can be used for vessel fueling.

LPG as a marine fuel is a long-term solution.

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