Ocean Network Express (ONE) has suggested low sulphur gas oil (LSGO) is “one of the most realistic” solutions to achieving the 2020 Global Sulphur Limit.
The Japanese carrier evaluated three different methods of achieving the limit, which was set by the International Maritime Organization and requires the sulphur content of fuel to be below 0.5% as of 2020 compared to 3.5% currently, and found LSGO, or hybrid oil, to be the best.
ONE said: “Our container vessels are equipped to adopt low-sulphur compliant hybrid oil without requiring special modification.
“At current, we identified this as one of the most realistic and cost-efficient solutions, to enable ONE to be compliant ready by 1 January 2020. We are in discussion with bunker supplier for specification.”
Hybrid oils could be a blended product with specifications like heavy fuel oil, as well as certain refinery products that have not been used as fuel. They do not necessarily fit into the traditional specifications for marine gas oil, marine diesel oil or residual fuel oil.
LSGO is also widely available, and will be more so by 2020. However, the current market difference between high sulphur fuel oil and LSGO is approximately US$150-200 per metric tonne, which is expected to increase in 2020 due to demand, and ONE said this will “certainly impact operational cost.”
ONE evaluated two other solutions, the application of scrubber vessels to vessels and the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG), but said neither are realistic methods of achieving the sulphur limit.
The company said that it has several existing vessels that could be fitted with a scrubber system, a large piece of equipment that removes sulphur from exhausts, is possible but would require the sacrifice of cargo space. Additionally a vessel would have to be phased out of service and docked for an installation process of more than a month, leading to a long idling time.
ONE said building a new vessel with a scrubber could take two to three years, meaning it is not a realistic solution for the 2020 deadline.
However the carrier said it would consider the system for the next phase of the limit, and that it is also evaluating the possibility of chartering vessels with scrubber systems.
LNG, another compliant oil, requires specifically equipped LNG powered engines. ONE said that because the building period of such a vessel would also take two to three years this method is also not feasible.
Another problem is a lack of bunkering facilities. ONE said: “Services where ONE can deploy LNG powered vessel are also limited as there are constraints on availability of LNG bunkering facilities.
“Although our LNG powered vessel deployment plan is not concrete at this moment, evaluation is underway and development of the LNG bunkering environment is being further analysed.”