LNG offers the only investable, available option for shipowners looking for low-carbon fuels today. That simple message – reinforced by a robust new lifecycle analysis study and clear steps towards further carbon reductions across a vessel’s life - united participants at Virtual Gas Fest last week.
The series of online workshops, hosted by the Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF), tackled issues ranging from future-proofing vessels to accelerating biofuel uptake. In contrast with the polarised and politicised debate that has sown uncertainty in ship fuel options, the workshops highlighted the need for clear, positive and factual communication to convey the role that LNG can play in reducing shipping’s emissions.
Facts are thin on the ground for fuels that have yet to reach commercial scale or technological maturity. For LNG, which has been used as ship fuel for around 20 years, the facts are measurable. Participants welcomed Sphera’s second Life Cycle GHG Emission Study on the Use of LNG as Marine Fuel, which based its findings on comprehensive first-hand data collection from engines in service and the latest upstream emissions information, unlike the outdated analysis relied upon in many other reports.
“The updated lifecycle analysis – and a forthcoming study of alternative fuels including ammonia and hydrogen – ensure that the rationale for using LNG becomes even more coherent, consistent and credible,” said Mark Bell, General Manager, SGMF. “A week of affirmative, convergent discussions show that the gas fuel community is on the right path. Now we need to make sure we sing from the same hymn sheet.”
Fossil LNG alone will not enable shipowners to meet IMO targets in one step. Participants discussed the medium-term options that will allow vessel owners that invest in LNG propulsion now to reach zero emissions. These include using net-zero carbon bio- or synthetic- methane as drop-in fuels as they become available, and later perhaps ammonia made from hydrogen. Starting the journey of reduced emissions with the next generation of vessels is much better for the planet than waiting several years for net-zero carbon fuels – and in some cases the engine and fuel handling technology needed to use them - to become available.
The pricing of LNG could also benefit from clearer communication, participants agreed. With many shipowners focused on capital expenditure, the lifetime savings from using LNG can be lost. Combined with a stepwise approach to reducing emissions, these operational cost savings present a compelling argument that LNG, for many vessels, is an ideal first step towards decarbonisation.
The long-awaited return of the live Gas Fest event – now in its fifth year - will take place in Barcelona on November 23-24 and as always will be by invitation only. To register your interest in joining please visit www.gasfest.com.

Image caption: The visual scribing that has become a hallmark of Gas Fest highlights the key points raised by workshop participants 

Image Caption: Gas Fest community gathers virtually for the third time since it's last in-person event in Feb 2019

About Gas Fest
Gas Fest is a unique ‘for industry, by industry’ platform that convenes key players across the fuel value system to explore the role of gas as a marine fuel in shipping’s energy transition. Since the first gathering in 2017 it has been an essential collaborative forum for identifying concrete steps to advance the decarbonisation of the marine industry through the use of gas as a marine fuel. From 2020, Gas Fest is hosted by the Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF) and key industry partners.
For more information visit: www.gasfest.com