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Landmark LNG container ship retrofit announced

Thu 07 Feb 2019 by Gavin Lipsith

Landmark LNG container ship retrofit announced
Hapag-Lloyd has a further 16 vessels that could be suitable for LNG retrofits

Hamburg-based liner company Hapag-Lloyd has confirmed that its 15,000teu vessel Sajir will become the biggest container ship so far to retrofit dual-fuel LNG engines.

The company has signed a contract with Hudong Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) Co to carry out the conversion at Huarun Dadong Dockyard in Shanghai. The vessel’s 54.9MW MAN B&W 9S90MEC10 engine will be converted to MAN Energy Solutions’ dual-fuelled ME-GI engine concept.

Hapag-Lloyd plans to use primarily LNG, with low-sulphur fuel oil as a back-up option. Managing director fleet management Richard von Berlepsch at Hapag-Lloyd, said: “By carrying out this unprecedented pilot, we hope to learn for the future and to pave the way for large ships to be retrofitted to use this alternative fuel.”

Sajir is one of 17 container ships built as ‘LNG ready’ by United Arab Shipping Co before it was acquired by Hapag-Lloyd. Hapag-Lloyd first revealed its plan to convert one of the LNG-ready vessels when it detailed its compliance strategy for the 2020 sulphur cap last year.

Hapag-Lloyd's first LNG retrofit candidate will feature a 6,700m3 gas fuel tank, bunkering twice per round trip. The smaller tank size compared to the 18,600m3 tanks on CMA CGM's large container ships points to greater certainty about bunkering in Asia, as well as space constraints on the Sajir, which was designed LNG-ready six years ago.

The ship is already highly efficient, running at -60% to the EEDI reference line thanks to modern efficiency features including waste heat recovery. Another feature likely to remain is the power take-off (PTO). A recent case study by MAN Energy Solutions highlights how a PTO can optimise energy efficiency by using a power take-off to generate electricity from the main engine. Auxiliaries will be dual fuel too, the line confirmed.

After conversion, the 54.9MW MAN B&W 9S90MEC10 will earn the -GI suffix that denotes MAN Energy Solutions' high-pressure, Diesel cycle, dual-fuelled engines.

A successful retrofit for a vessel of Sajir’s size would represent a significant milestone for the advancement of LNG as a marine fuel. The high cost of retrofitting has been seen as a barrier to uptake, although a recent study by SEA/LNG notes that both conversion costs and the premium for gas-fuelled newbuilds is falling.

Compliance strategies including LNG retrofits will be the subject of discussion at the Americas Sulphur Cap 2020 Conference, to be held in Houston on 5-6 March. Book your place now.

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