Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is an alternative fuel whose use has increased significantly in the maritime sector. It consists of condensed natural gas at a temperature of about -120 and -170°C. The use of LNG instead of oil fuel offers major environmental gains, such as an immediate significant impact on the reduction of Sulphur Oxides emissions, Particulate Matter (PM), and also of Nitrogen Oxides. Natural gas sources are widely available, and the energy density of LNG is comparable to petrol and diesel fuels. These characteristics, together with advancements in ship and fuel tank containment design and engine efficiency made the use of LNG as a fuel for shipping a feasible option. An increasing number of ships have adopted it, with an increasing number of newbuilds at the order book.

Nevertheless, the use of LNG still poses some challenges, in particular with regard to onboard storage and high investment costs. Bunkering infrastructure is still in development and the low flashpoint and cryogenic nature of LNG remain a safety concern. Moreover, it must be taken into account that LNG is mostly composed of Methane, whose impact on climate change is more than 25 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period. Careful consideration needs to be given to any form of methane release throughout the Well-to-Wake chain of LNG (i.e. over the life cycle of the fuel).

There are various actors involved in promoting LNG as an alternative fuel for the maritime sector and various regulations and guidelines addressing its use. The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) decided to write this guidance document after consulting with different stakeholders, including port authorities, maritime administrations, terminal, gas suppliers and government representatives and with the LNG experts sub-group of the European Sustainable Shipping Forum (ESSF). An online survey allowed all participating ports and other stakeholders to contribute to the document. The result is a document holding an ambivalent “informative” and “guidance” nature, aiming to provide Port Authorities/Administrations with the necessary advice and reference to guide their actions throughout the planning and operational stages of LNG bunkering.

The full EMSA guidance document on LNG Bunkering is available at the following LINK.