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Shipping industry told LNG ‘will not take us to zero’

Shipping has to ‘make ammonia work’ and stop investing in carbon-based fuels, ICS event hears

Shipping should not capture carbon in synthetic fuels only to release it again, Torvald Klaveness chief executive Lasse Kristoffersen tells ICS conference in Glasgow

SHIPPING should not invest in liquefied natural gas fuel infrastructure, according to the head of Norwegian bulker operator Torvald Klaveness.

“That’s not the infrastructure that’s going to take us to zero, we all agree to that,” Lasse Kristoffersen told an International Chamber of Shipping conference. “It is a small fix in the short term, but we cannot as a society over the next decade or two, invest in infrastructure in LNG. It will not take us there.”

Mr Kristoffersen said an LNG vessel ordered today would be ready in 2025 and keep working until 2050, “and then we’re supposed to be at zero — 15-20% [emissions reductions compared with fuel oil] doesn’t matter”.

He said the industry could combine hydrogen with carbon dioxide to make synthetic hydrocarbons like e-methanol or e-methane or combine it with nitrogen to get ammonia.

“Why on earth should we as a society in 2030 and 2040 capture CO2, put it into a fuel and release it again?” he asked. “Come on! We want to remove CO2.”

Mr Kristoffersen, the ICS vice chair, replaced chairman Esben Poulsson at the event on November 6 who has tested positive for coronavirus.

The comments contrasted with the mostly pro-LNG speakers at the Shaping the Future of Shipping conference, with several major container lines represented.

CMA CGM head of fleets and assets Christine Woehrel said the company had signed a deal with French gas company Engie to speed up production of synthetic methane, which can be dropped in existing LNG engines.

Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd and Japan’s NYK have also embraced LNG as a transition fuel.

Mr Kristoffersen said: “We have some beautiful companies up here this morning building LNG vessels 20% better.

“What if you build four regular-fuel vessels and one zero-emission? You get the same result, but you move the world.”

He said hydrogen and lithium batteries would not work for big ships because they lacked the needed energy density, so the means to store them on board would be too big and heavy.

Mr Kristoffersen said shipping had to “make ammonia work” and he rejected the prevalent idea that the industry would adopt a basket of future fuels based on availability.

“There will not be a multitude of solutions,” he said. “There will not be five fuels in each port … we won’t be able to do that.”

He said green ammonia would never compete with carbon-based fuels on price even if electricity was free, and a carbon price such as the ICS’ proposed $5bn research and development fund was needed to help scale up production.

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