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Customer FAQs - LNG

Customer FAQs - LNG

Customer FAQs

CalMac Ferries Ltd. is fully committed to preserving the environment in which it operates and is actively seeking ways in which it can be as environmentally friendly as possible. This is being achieved in a number of ways, one of which is supporting the introduction of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) for the new vessels. 

CalMac and CMAL are working to ensure the appropriate infrastructure is in place to make LNG available when the ships come into service. 

What is LNG? 

Natural Gas is primarily methane and is the gas which is used in domestic households as fuel for cooking and heating.   

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is natural gas which has been cooled to below its boiling point to become liquid. This occurs at around -162°C and is principally done at source to reduce its volume by 600 times from its gaseous state to enable it to be transported to markets. Huge amounts of energy can be transported this way. 

Natural gas/LNG is the cleanest burning fossil fuel and is made up of mostly methane with small amounts of other hydrocarbons such as ethane and propane. It is odourless, colourless, non-toxic and non-corrosive.  

Why fuel vessels with LNG? 

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced new regulations for emissions from ships in January 2016 and LNG provides a fuel that complies with those measures without the need to install emissions control equipment and reducing the need to run on high carbon (diesel) fuels. 

As well as reducing visible smoke emissions, there is reduced contamination of engine oils, which allows increased time between overhauls.  

When compared to traditional, oil-based high carbon marine fuels, the following reduction of emissions can be expected:  

  • Sulphur Oxides 100% 

  • Nitrous Oxide 85% 

  • Particulate Matter 90%  

  • Carbon dioxide 25%. 

But gas smells, so why are you saying its odourless? 

The reason that domestic gas smells is because of the substance added to the gas that comes into your home so you can smell any leaks. This isn't added to LNG for ships and is therefore odourless.  

What if there is a leak? 

The design of the vessel ensures that a comprehensive gas detection system will immediately shut down the gas supply to the engines upon detecting a leak, therefore minimising the risk to the lowest level.  

Which other ferry operators are adopting this technology? 

Other ferry operators adopting this technology include Brittany Ferries, the Balearia Group, Viking Line, and the major cruise lines such as Aida, Carnival, Disney and P&O Cruises, Samsoe rederei, Rederij Doeksen. 

Is LNG safe? 

The global LNG industry has an excellent safety record and any permanent storage of LNG in the UK is subject to control by the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) regulations.  

The IMO's International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low-Flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code) also sets out specific design requirements and operational parameters for the ships. 

The three main dangers associated with cryogenic liquids are (Low) Temperature, Pressure and Asphyxiation. 

Does its transportation, storage and use present any specific challenges? 

As with all fuels, LNG must be handled with care, but as stated above there are well established rules in place on how this must be done.  

The emergency services are all familiar with its use and have their own procedures for tackling incidents in which LNG may be an issue e.g. road accidents involving an LNG tanker. 

Will the trucks delivering it be powered by LNG? 

Although there are now a great number of LNG powered trucks operating on the UK roads, our supplier has advised that the delivery of LNG to Scotland by LNG powered trucks is not yet feasible due to the size of the fuel tanks required and lack of refuelling infrastructure. 

Where will the LNG come from? 

Supplies currently come to the UK by ship from Qatar, USA, Peru and Angola. This data is available from the Office of National Statistics.   

The UK has three terminals that can receive LNG - Milford Haven, Isle of Grain and Medway. Currently the only LNG-receiving terminal which has the facility to fill road tankers is situated at the Grain LNG Terminal in Kent, which is where the LNG used for bunkering vessels will come from.  

The Isle of Grain LNG terminal alone is large enough to supply 20% of the UK's natural gas demand with capacity of 1 million m3 of LNG. 

The LNG is re-gasified and passed to the gas network, or it can also be exported. For example, to Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands.  

The Isle of Grain facility for road tanker filling has been in use for over 30 years supplying the off-grid networks of the UK with LNG, of which Scotland has five - at Stornoway, Wick, Oban, Thurso and Campbelltown - all of which are supplied by road tankers.    

Is it the same as LPG? 

No, LPG is a product of the petroleum industry and consists of Butane and Propane, these are heavier than air and not as clean burning as Methane.  

Doesn't the transportation of LNG in this way from the South of England cancel out any environmental benefits? 

There are two issues here. The use of LNG on the ferries will undoubtedly improve emissions in the areas in which they are operating. The adoption of LNG for ferries and other local users is expected to grow in the future so demand will increase, and it is hoped this will create a critical mass that will lead to investment in storage facilities in Scotland to improve overall supply and encourage other users to adopt the fuel. 

In the meantime, LNG will be transported by road, and while not ideal, when weighed up by the future environmental benefits, is considered necessary to promote the use of LNG in Scotland. 

The fuel is not coming long international distances specifically for use on the CalMac ships, we are tapping into an already existing and essential market. 

Can anyone haul LNG on the road? 

The haulier must comply with ADR regulations, these are very strict and are regulated by UKHSE. 

How will LNG be stored and transferred to vessels at ports? 

At Troon, the LNG will be pumped from trucks to the ship.   

A storage tank is proposed for Ardrossan and a pipeline will connect the storage facility with the bunker point at the edge of the berth. This bunker point will be positioned to meet the LNG bunker station on the ship. 

The storage of LNG requires the operator to comply with the Control of Major Accident Hazards regs 2015 and therefore a significant amount of risk assessment work has been carried out and this work will be ongoing for the lifecycle of the ships. This is regulated by UK HSE. Likewise, at Troon, significant risk assessment work has been carried out.  

Why are storage tanks necessary, why not bunker from a truck as currently with Marine Gas Oil (MGO) and like you will be at Troon? 

Truck to ship bunkering is not considered a sustainable solution which will meet the long term demands of the new ships for two reasons: 

  • The typical transfer rate from a road tanker to receiving vessel is too slow - typically between 2 and 2.5 hours to decant 20 tonnes of liquid, by comparison, a full tanker of MGO is approximately 28 tonnes and can be transferred to the ship in about 45 minutes. 

  • If tankers are required to meet the vessel during the timetabled port calls, there would be a risk of delay caused if problems were encountered during transit. 

Will the timetable change because of LNG bunkering? 

The timetables are still being finalised. The time for LNG bunkering and the increased safety measures required when bunkering LNG will need to be considered.  

Will the use of LNG increase the cost to passengers? 

Ticket pricing is set by Transport Scotland so it would be their decision whether any alteration to fares would be required to reflect any differences in costs associated with the use of LNG. 

Can I smoke on board? 

There will be no passenger or vehicle movements during bunkering. At all other times, a dedicated smoking area on board the ships will be provided and CalMac no smoking policy will apply as normal. 

What if there is an emergency on board, like a fire or abandon ship? 

Emergency procedures will be similar to how they work at the moment.  

Enhanced firefighting equipment is being provided on board the ship in accordance with the regulations and staff trained in their use as well as emergency procedures dedicated to the gas system. By design, in accordance with IGF code, the gas storage is well protected from fire and grounding. 

Do crew need any special training?  

Crew will be trained to approved international standards.  

All ship and port staff will receive basic familiarisation training with LNG as part of their induction to the ship and as required by their duties ashore. 

All staff engaged in bunkering the fuel will undergo training with the fuel supplier.  

Is there a risk of explosion? 

The chance of an explosion on board is extremely unlikely due to the inherent safety features of the design of the entire gas fuel system.  

How long will it take to bunker? 

Each bunkering event at Troon from a truck to the ship will take between 2 and 2.5 hours to complete depending on the volume to be decanted.  

When the fixed tank is in operation, that time will drop to between 45 and 60 minutes to bunker the same volume. 

Will the public be allowed on board when bunkering? 

There will be a safety zone in place around the vessels bunker station during bunkering into which only suitably qualified personnel will be allowed. As such, all passenger and vehicle operations will be suspended when bunkering is completed. 

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