Milestone for first LPG conversion with Isle of Man design acceptance

Milestone for first LPG conversion with Isle of Man design acceptance
VLGC BW Leo. Image courtesy of BW LPG.

BW LPG, the Isle of Man Ship Registry, Wärtsilä Gas Solutions, MAN Energy Solutions, and DNV GL have celebrated the first flag acceptance of a conversion to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as fuel for a very large gas carrier (VLGC).

With the successful acceptance, BW LPG will begin the conversion of 12 vessels to dual fuel LPG engines. The conversions will be the first of a VLGC to run on LPG. After the conversion the vessels will also receive the newly developed DNV GL class notation “GF LPG”.

BW LPG first announced the project to convert some of the LPG carriers to a LPG fuelled propulsion system in August 2018. The flag state acceptance of the design by the Isle of Man means that the project has been demonstrated to have an equivalent level of safety to methane as a ship fuel under the IGC Code 2016.

The vessels will be fitted with two additional LPG cargo/fuel deck tanks in cargo area, so as not to compromise the cargo capacity onboard and a high-pressure liquid fuel system for the modified MAN Energy Solutions two stroke engines. Using LPG as a ship fuel results in substantial lower emissions to air, virtually eliminating sulphur emissions, and dramatically reducing particulate matter and black carbon emissions. Used with a two-stroke engine, LPG can also significantly cut NOx emissions and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Retrofitting has the added benefit of extending the lifespan of the vessel, significantly reducing the overall carbon footprint compared to a newbuilding.

“We are very pleased that BW LPG has recognised our expertise in this field and chosen DNV GL as the classification partner for this project,” said Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, chief executive officer of DNV GL – Maritime. “This acceptance is the result of all of the partners bringing their exceptional competence and experience to come up with a safe and feasible solution for this innovative project. In addition, the knowledge we have gained from working on the project has resulted in us being able to release a new dedicated LPG notation, which we hope will spur the further interest and uptake of LPG as a ship fuel.”

“The Board and Management at BW LPG continue to emphasise a deep corporate commitment to sustainable development,” said Anders Onarheim, chief executive officer of BW LPG. “For us, as the world’s largest owner and operator of VLGCs, this means that we invest significant resources and expertise to pioneer technology that can be used to push our industry towards decarbonisation without the need for dedicated newbuilding orders. We thank our industry partners who have worked in close collaboration with us to ensure that this pioneering technology is safe and reliable for implementation.”

“In the age of constant change, technological advances and forward thinking the Isle of Man Ship Registry and the Ship Registry’s global client base of shipowners and operators, are very keen to put their collective experience to good use, working collaboratively and embracing innovation within the maritime industry,” said Cameron Mitchell, director, Isle of Man Ship Registry. “The safety of seafarers, ships and the environment are key objectives of the Ship Registry and being closely involved in the conceptual challenges presented, helps us to assess and ultimately achieve those objectives. We are proud to have our team confirm first flag acceptance of a VLGC LPG conversion, and thankful to all stakeholders for their co-operation throughout the project.”

BW LPG plans to begin the conversions of the first two vessels, “BW Leo” and “BW Gemini”, this summer with completion scheduled for late summer 2020. The other vessels are targeted for conversion at their next drydocking period.