July 2014

The Department of Naval Architecture of the TEI of Athens, together with the Hellenic Register of Shipping, organized on Thursday, 5th of June 2014, an event in the course of the International Maritime Exhibition "Posidonia", in order to present the first results of the transnational research project entitled "LNGCOMSHIP: Implementation of LNG fuel in commercial ship propulsion plants". The project addresses the use of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) for marine propulsion. The event proved very successful: it lasted for approximately four hours, and was attended by more than 500 people, including maritime executives, representatives of international agencies, representatives of classification societies and public and national organizations, as well as academics and students of the TEI of Athens and other Universities, TEI and Colleges, in a crowded Posidonia Conference Hall of the Metropolitan Expo at AIA.

The Minister of Shipping and the Aegean, Mr. Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, addressed the audience, and emphasized the importance of using LNG for vessel propulsion, which constitutes the core of the research carried out by Department of Naval Architecture of the TEI of Athens in the course of "LNGCOMSHIP".

"About a year ago, when I set for the first time the need for a partial replacement of marine oil by LNG in short-sea shipping vessels, many talked about an over-optimistic goal. However, you are all aware that today more and more members of the maritime community adopt this view", said Mr. Varvitsiotis.

"We want to be pioneers in this use issue, as the use of LNG will contribute to reducing the operating cost of short-sea shipping, will boost the competitiveness of the Hellenic short-sea shipping sector, with beneficial effects for the consumer, while it will also contribute to a harmonization with the European strategy for reducing emissions and using environmentally friendly fuels. Our current goal is the establishment of a right framework within the European Structural Funds, to support the required conversions and retrofitting of ship propulsion systems", concluded the Minister.

The first part of the event consisted in the presentation of results of the research carried out by the four project partners: the Department of Naval Architecture of the TEI of Athens, the Hellenic Register of Shipping, the Harbin Engineering University and the agency China International Marine Containers (Group) Ltd. (CIMC). In the course of the project, which has been implemented under the Operational Programme Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship (OP II), NSRF 2007-2013 Bilateral S & T Cooperation between Greece and China 2012-2014, the Greek partners focus on LNG applications in open type F/B small ships of the short-shipping sector. Those ships operate within the Greek territory, especially near urban areas, and it is expected that the adoption of LNG as their fuel will result in substantial benefits for the environment and the Greek economy. The Chinese partners, having expertise in the construction of commercial vessels, focus on the design of container ships using LNG as fuel.

During the second part of the event, representatives of several organizations of the Greek and the international maritime sector that were invited, all with experience in the use of LNG for marine propulsion, presented their views. The organizations included the marine engine manufacturer Wärtsilä Finland, which owns the largest worldwide market share in engines with gas fueled ships, the Greek shipping company GASLOG, which owns one of the world's largest fleets of LNG Carriers, NAFSOLP of the Piraeus Port Organization, and the University of New Orleans. All speakers concluded that the adoption of LNG as fuel for ships constitutes an environmentally friendly solution, which is technically sound and economically viable, with applications already existing in Northern Europe. Adoption of this solution requires the development of infrastructures in small- and medium scale ports accommodating vessels (supply infrastructure - bunkering, logistics, etc.).

The event concluded with a roundtable discussion in which the economic and environmental benefits of using LNG as fuel in ships were summarized, the technical and investment challenges associated with converting existing vessels to LNG-fueled ones were highlighted, and the main parameters affecting investment decisions by the end users (shipping companies) were clarified. Finally, it was stressed that implementing such an ambitious plan requires the coordinated action of many stakeholders: ship owners, ports, gas suppliers, shipyards, etc., under the scientific guidance of an academic institution.

More information on the research project LNGCOMSHIP can be found in the website: