The increasing use of LNG fuel in maritime transport needs to be coupled with an effective land-based refuelling supply chain.
The adoption of the International Code of safety for ships using gases or other low-flashpoint fuels (IGF Code) represents a response to the ever increasing use of LNG as alternative fuel to meet the needs to comply with stricter and stricter regulations on environmental emissions.
The Code regulates various aspects aiming at minimizing the risk to the ship, its crew and the environment. However, other important issues related to the use of LNG - or other gases with a low-flashpoint as fuel – still need to be addressed, such as those related to the bunkering (e.g. development of an international standard for LNG bunkering connections; harmonisation of the already available LNG bunkering guidelines; and establishment of worldwide maritime bunkering infrastructure and LNG refuelling supply chain).
In relation to the above, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) invited the ISO to develop an international standard for ship refuelling systems, while the International Association of classification societies (IACS) is developing guidelines for the safe LNG bunkering operations.
Although an international land-based infrastructures network has not yet been developed, regional initiatives have been put in place, such as in Europe within a broad European strategy for a more efficient use of resources (i.e. Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth).
In particular, the EU adopted a new Directive (2014/94/EU) that requires, inter alia, EU Member States to:
- Adopt a national policy for market development as regards alternative fuels in the transport sector and the deployment of the relevant infrastructure, by 18 November 2016
- Put in place an appropriate number of refuelling points for LNG at maritime ports, cooperating with neighbouring Member States where necessary, by 31 December 2025
The EU Member States are working on the implementation of such a Directive. For instance, Italy promoted a project for CO2 and other ship transport emissions abatement (COSTA) and is involved in another project (GAINN_IT) which has just started.
The COSTA project – proposed by the Italian General Direction of Maritime Transport and technically coordinated by RINA – carried out a deep analysis to understand possible future LNG demand and the possible technical and logistic solutions for using LNG on ships trading in the Mediterranean, Atlantic Ocean and Black Seas.
The COSTA project set the basis for the creation of a Mediterranean LNG refuelling infrastructure. The follow-up project, GAINN_IT, has scheduled a series of pilot initiatives - 9 in Italian ports – to be carried out by 2018, equipping the selected ports with a pilot version of one or more of the following LNG infrastructures: LNG receiving system, LNG storage system, LNG refuelling for LNG fuelled ships and vehicles.