Methane leaks from vessels that operate on liquefied natural gas, popular as LNG, as fuel make most vessels dirtier than those using heavy fuel oil or diesel, a new study observes. The findings shared by Transport & Environment, a nonprofit organization based in Brussels, call into question a key plank of the EU’s proposed regulations aimed to decarbonize the emissions generated from the heavy shipping industry. The study has been based on data from the IHS Markit and European Commission.
Per Bloomberg, about 80% of vessels that operate on LNG use a particular type of engine that leaks 3.1% of the fuel into the atmosphere, per Transport and Environment.
The group, with an infrared camera, captured unburned methane leaking from LNG-powered ships in Rotterdam. The footage reflects methane plumes from the LNG-powered Louvre container vessel, owned by the France-based shipping major CMA CGM, and from EcoDelta, which is a dredger vessel.
CMA CGM said it was difficult to answer questions without taking a look at the report. The shipping major has been working actively to reduce the leakage of unburned methane by enhancing its engines and using advanced software, a spokesperson mentioned, resulting in major reductions in emissions.
Data from Bloomberg reflected that EcoDelta is owned by Van der Kamp BV based in the Netherlands, which did not right away reply to an e-mail seeking comments.
LNG has been promoted to be cleaner than other kinds of fossil fuels as it produces lesser carbon dioxide when burned. But methane, which is the key component of natural gas, traps heat 84 times more than CO₂ over the first two decades when in the atmosphere. Many scientists recommend reducing unnecessary releases is imperative to preventing the worst effects of climate change.
Delphine Gozillon, a shipping officer associated with Transport & Environment, mentioned that most LNG vessels in the market are more damaging to the climate than the fossil ships they are supposed to be replacing.