For the past two years, the Wessels Reederei, in collaboration with the main engine manufacturer MAN Diesel & Turbo and gas specialist TGW Marine Gas Engineering, investigated main engine conversion options for the propulsion system from heavy fuel oil to low-emission liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Last Thursday October 15th Wessels was honored by Enak Ferlemann, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure with a government grant in the seven-figures for retrofitting their container ship “WES AMELIE” (1,000 TEU), making the ship the first of its kind worldwide to be converted to an LNG propulsion system. Through the utilization of LNG, the pollutant emissions will be drastically reduced (sulfur oxide (SOx) apprx. >99%, nitrogen oxide (NOx) apprx. 90%, CO2 up to 20%).
Funding was provided through the federal program Mobility and Fuel Strategy which promotes the maritime use of LNGs as an environmentally friendly fuel. “For many years our shipping company has been committed to ‘Green Shipping’ – through the development and implementation of more efficient alternative propulsion systems. With the conversion to LNG we and our partners showcase our technical expertise and demonstrate practical environmental solutions for the merchant marine industry”, said Gerd Wessels, Managing Owner of Wessels Reederei GmbH.
The “WES AMELIE” is a modern, 1,000 TEU feeder vessel that was launched in 2011 and operates in the North and Baltic Seas. When selecting the vessel for conversion, special attention was paid to the scalability of the engineering services as well as the development costs, reducing significantly the costs for follow-up projects. The “WES AMELIE” has 23 sister ships, 16 of them structurally identical, which allows follow-up projects to be easily implemented. This ship therefore facilitates a multiplier effect, with sufficient quantities of conversion capable vessels on the European continent. The use of LNG as fuel requires the availability of liquefied natural gas on shipping and trade routes. The existing LNG infrastructure (liquefaction plants, storage capacity, bunker facilities) in even high-traffic ports is not nearly sufficient enough for full coverage of ships under LNG operation.
The BMVI funded project contributes to the resolution of this “chicken or the egg problem” by promoting the demand for LNG as fuel for the maritime industry, through a demand-generating flagship project Due to the long delivery time of LNG tanks the rebuilding will commence in Q4 2016. Full operational usage of LNG as fuel is planned for early December 2016.