By Rodger Rees
Galveston Wharves Port Director and CEO
As liquified natural gas (LNG) continues to gain traction globally as a commercial marine fuel, the Port of Galveston and the community will reap environmental and economic benefits. Fueling more ships with safe, clean-burning LNG improves air quality. Providing LNG fueling services would create more jobs and ship calls for our port.
Any major change takes time, but a growing number of LNG-fueled ships are being launched every year. According to Class Society DNV, a global maritime advisory organization, at the end of 2021 there were 251 LNG-fueled ships in operation and approximately 450 on order at shipyards worldwide.
The cruise industry forecasts 26 LNG-powered cruise ships by 2027. Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Disney cruise lines all have plans for greener, more efficient ships. According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), LNG helps reduce a cruise ship’s carbon emissions by approximately 30 percent.
LNG fuel is one of the best options available for cruise ships to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint, CLIA states. By using LNG fuel, sulfur emissions are reduced by nearly 99 percent and nitrogen oxide emissions are reduced by 85 percent. This is a huge step toward a greener future for the cruise industry.
LNG as a marine fuel has been adopted in a wide range of other vessels, including container vessels, crude tankers, chemical tankers, passenger ferries, car carriers, tugs, bulk carriers, fishing vessels and dredgers. With a growing number of LNG-fueled vessels operating in the Gulf of Mexico, demand for LNG as bunker fuel is rising.
Galveston LNG Bunkering Coming in 2022
To meet that demand, LNG producer and distributor Stabilis Solutions, Inc. of Houston will provide turnkey LNG bunkering services for vessels calling on the Port of Galveston. Once given full U.S. Coast Guard approval, LNG bunkering services will be available in the Port of Galveston from the second quarter of 2022.
Stabilis will be providing mobile shore-to-ship fueling with LNG produced at its plants in Texas and Louisiana. The facility gives the Port of Galveston a quickly deployable and scalable LNG bunkering solution to meet customer demands for more environmentally sustainable marine fuels.
In addition, other fuel bunkering companies have approached the Galveston Wharves. As one example, Pilot LNG has expressed interest in leasing a port-owned tract on the northeast side of Pelican Island for a bunker terminal to serve ships in the busy Galveston, Houston and Texas City region.
What’s Driving Change?
While the air quality benefits of LNG have been known for years, greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) are driving change in the martime industry. The initial IMO target is for the maritime industry to reduce GHG emissions 40 percent by 2030.
LNG also supports the Port of Galveston’s environmental goals as a Green Marine-certified port. By joining the voluntary environmental program for the North American marine industry, the port has made a long-term commitment to continuous improvement in environmental performance.
LNG bunkering and shore power are two exemplary technologies that would help reduce the maritime industry’s environmental footprint in our region.