The rules are to increase use of green fuels as well as strengthen safety.

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) and green fuels will play an increasing role in the shipping industry. The UN International Maritime Organization is ready to introduce common rules within the field.

Besides increasing the use of green fuels and strengthen safety, a third advantage of the new rules is that many shipping companies may save time and money by not having to carry out separate risk analyses when using LNG.

The new set of rules will apply to vessels using gas or other fuels with low flash point values. Among other things, the rules lay down the following requirements: 

  • construction specifications for the placement of fuel tanks
  • fire safety measures
  • additional protection in the engine room. 

The reason for the increased focus on LNG is that, as of 2015, vessels' sulphur and nitrogen emissions must be regulated. As of 2015, vessels must, therefore, either use marine gas oil, LNG or have a scrubber installed cleaning the smoke emitted from the vessel.

LNG comes in a very compressed form, and, as a consequence, an LNG tank contains significantly more energy than if it was gasified. Therefore, LNG is an interesting fuel for the shipping industry both in relation to environment and health.

The rules are expected to be approved by the Maritime Safety Committee in November 2014 with a view to adoption in 2015. If adopted, the rules will enter into force in 2017.