World’s First LPG Retrofit Announced

By Jack Burke27 October 2020

The liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier BW Gemini is the first commercial vessel converted to be propelled by a two-strong LPG dual-fuel engine.

MAN PrimeServ, MAN Energy Solutions’ after-sales division, converted of the main engine aboard the ship from an MAN B&W 6G60ME-C9.2 type to an MAN B&W 6G60ME- LGIP dual-fuel type capable of operating on fuel oil and LPG. The BW Gemini is part of the fleet of Oslo-listed BW LPG – the world’s leading owner and operator of LPG vessels.

The conversion is the first of 12 ordered by BW LPG for a series of vessels in its fleet.

BW LPG chose retrofits over newbuildings for a number of reasons, according to MAN Energy Solutions.

“Retrofitting allows us to minimize our carbon footprint – the process emits up to 97% less carbon dioxide compared to a newbuilding construction,” said Pontus Berg, executive vice president, Technical and Operations, LPG, said. “Retrofitting also means that we do not add additional tonnage that the world does not need. In addition, BW LPG’s fleet is already widely recognzsed amongst charterers for its efficiency, and so retrofitting 12 of its vessels to dual-fuel LPG would help to further reinforce the company’s strong reputation in this area.”

MAN Energy Solutions announced the first four BW LPG retrofit orders for its new MAN B&W ME-LGIP LGP-powered engine in September 2018 in advance of the official launch of the engine at its Research Centre Copenhagen, and exchanged the contract publically with BW LPG during the event.

In February 2020, the type approval/parent engine test was performed at licensee STX works in Korea with the TAT approved by all classification societies.

The BW Gemini docked at Yui Lian Ship Yard in Shenzen, China in early August 2020 for conversion. Due to pandemic restrictions, the MAN PrimeServ project team collaborated in great part remotely to push the conversion forwards.

Sea trials are scheduled for October 2020 with the LPG carrier due to re-enter commercial trading upon their successful completion.

“The industry is moving towards a zero-carbon future and there is a strong global push towards sustainability,” said Dr Uwe Lauber, CEO of MAN Energy Solutions. “As we pass the 2020 sulfur cap and get closer to future IMO targets in 2030 and 2050, companies that show strong corporate commitment to sustainability will become more commercially attractive. In this context, this retrofit project represents an important milestone and case study for the future of our industry.”

With LPG as a marine fuel, the BW Gemini’s output efficiencies rise by around 10% against fuel oil, which will in turn generate notable gains in total voyage fuel-economics. This, along with other advantages, secures LPG’s position as a long-term, sustainable marine fuel.

Cost-wise, LPG is also a better option than compliant fuel oil, with high lifetime savings prospects, MAN Energy Solutions said. By leveraging LPG as a marine fuel, BW LPG’s vessels benefit from savings due to lower fuel consumption and full dual-fuel flexibility, which guards against price sensitivity to post-2020 fuel price fluctuations. Furthermore, the ability to use LPG cargo as a supplemental fuel source also reduces time and fees for fuel bunkering.

MAN PrimeServ’s dual-fuel expertise helped BW LPG to get a clear picture of the economics involved in this ambitious retrofit project,” said Wayne Jones OBE, Chief Sales Officer and member of the Executive Board, MAN Energy Solutions. “Although it requires significant upfront investment, the returns will be positive in both financial and environmental terms, and showcase perfectly BW LPG’s commitment to action on sustainability. It also displays the adaptability of MAN Energy Solutions’ technology and how retrofitting our engines can future-proof them to handle whatever alternative fuels come to prominence in the decades ahead.”

MAN PrimeServ contributed a vast amount of dual-fuel technology know-how, which, in combination with BW LPG’s own substantial experience in the gas-shipping business, meant that the initial business case could quickly be formed, and the project approved.

MAN PrimeServ’s research showed that a retrofit would be the most environmentally friendly solution. A retrofitted vessel generates 35 times less CO2-emissions compared to a newbuild vessel; and compared to 2020-compliant fuels, using LPG as a fuel would reduce SOx by 99%, CO2 by 15%, NOx by 10%, and particulate matter by 90%, the company said.

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