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How the LNG industry could curb its methane emissions

Wed 13 Mar 2019 by Andrew Clifton, SIGTTO

How the LNG industry could curb its methane emissions

SIGTTO general manager Andrew Clifton discusses a new project that will help determine the cost-effectiveness of emissions-reducing technology

The credibility of natural gas and its role in decarbonising energy systems hinges on demonstrating transparency and reducing methane emissions across the global gas supply chain.

One very important project we are currently involved with concerns methane emissions from LNG vessels. Working with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Imperial College London, Enagás and the National Physical Laboratory, this project aims to provide industry with the crucial measurement tools and the modelling necessary to determine the impact which the LNG supply chain has on the environment. It will also help determine the cost-effectiveness of methods to minimise emissions and reduce uncertainty across the supply chain – with our focus clearly being on LNG shipping.

The three areas to be assessed will be propulsion, operations and fugitive emissions.

The project aims to answer the following questions:

  • What are the methane emissions from selected stages of the LNG supply chain?
  • What are the key technological and operational factors that affect emissions?
  • By how much can emissions be cost-effectively minimised?

The project's four work packages are: WP1 - Emissions inventory assessment; WP2 - Measurement ships; WP3 - Modelling emissions; and WP4 - Determining cost-effective emissions minimisation.

The current LNG carrier fleet varies significantly with respect to age, size, storage, efficiency and propulsion technologies, all of which will impact upon emissions profiles.

To achieve a representative sample, multiple measurement studies will be made across different ships, as well as different stages of operational modes, such as laden and ballast passages. As this is a first-of-a-kind study, using mixed methods to measure methane emissions from ships, the design of the measurement system may require refinement, with the lessons learnt used to reduce cost and increase effectiveness.

This project provides a unique academic-industrial collaboration to measure methane emissions from LNG transport, modelling the key sources and their variability to provide sound evidence. This evidence will help determine potential minimisation targets via the most cost-effective solutions. SIGTTO, with its members and the project partners, is facilitating the measuring of these crucial emissions, with the first vessels hoping to be visited this summer.

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