One of the arguments voiced against LNG fuelling is that while it eliminates SOx emissions, reduces particulates to virtually zero and emits 90% fewer NOx emissions than existing heavy fuel oil, it still emits CO2.

But just how clean is gas overall for use in the marine world?

The Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF), in partnership with industry coalition SEA\LNG, is paying for an independent, reference piece of research to be done to determine what the emissions profile will be for gas as a marine fuel.

Study in two parts

SGMF general manager Mark Bell says the “well to wake” study is being split into an upstream part, which examines getting it out of the ground to putting LNG in a shoreside tank, and a downstream one, which takes a look at LNG onboard a ship through to burning gas in the vessel’s propulsion system.

Bell admits that the study is likely to raise more questions than answers, and says it is both fascinating and complex.

At present, it is unclear just what fuel choices will be available from 1 January 2020 and he says that will have a huge effect on the emissions profile. So the study will take what is on offer today rather than making assumptions and guesses about what might be on the table.

But Bell says the methodology will be such that it can be run again once the fuel mix is known.

The aim of the study is not simply to come up with some figures but to give a credible answer to what the emissions footprint is for gas.

But when those questions are answered for gas, then the same ones come up for oil, Bell says, adding that transporting heavy fuel oil to Singapore is likely to have “quite an emissions profile”.

The well to wake study will be finished near the end of the first quarter of next year.