Wholly Omani government-owned Oman Shipping Company (OSC) has pledged to switch to clean burning Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as the principal fuel source for powering its fleet of vessels in place of marine bunker fuel — a commodity long associated with global warming and harmful environmental emissions.
As part of this landmark transition to environmental-friendly LNG, Oman Shipping plans to invest in new LNG-powered ships in the future to support its growth ambitions as well as part of its fleet renewal programme, a high-level executive of the national shipping company said.
“Our current fleet is considered to be a young fleet with most of our ships able to use LNG as a fuel option,” said Ibrahim al Nadhairi (pictured), Chief Operating Officer — Oman Shipping. “But for the future fleet, and as the company goes through an expansion phase and renews its current fleet, we have (adopted) a mandate to go in for LNG-fuelled ships. So our future ships will be LNG-fuelled,” he told delegates on the second day of the International Gas Research Conference (IGRC) 2020 on Tuesday.
With this revelation, Oman Shipping is set to join a growing number of prestigious international shipping lines that have announced an ambitious switch to LNG as the transportation fuel of choice for their fleets. Orders for LNG-powered new buildings are soaring, and so are contracts for retrofitting of existing ships to enable them to run on LNG.
The move also comes on the back of this year’s January 1 deadline set by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) capping the sulphur content in bunker fuel to no more than 0.5 per cent. Sulphur oxides (SOX), emitted into the atmosphere, is known to be harmful to human health. It can also result in acid rain, which can be toxic to crops, devastate forests and aquatic species, and contribute to the acidification of oceans.
Al Nadhairi, who presented on the topic, ‘Solutions for Opening a Door: Gas For Transportation’, said the bulk of Oman Shipping’s current fleet is technically equipped to make the switch to LNG when the transition to the eco-friendly fuel indeed happens.
“Between 2025 and 2030 we will be making a lot of investment in terms of putting LNG fuel systems on board (our shipping fleet). For the old ships, which may not be able to burn LNG, we are going to be replacing them,” he noted.
Oman Shipping — part of Asyad Group — plays a pivotal role in sustaining the national economy, notably by providing ocean-going maritime transportation services covering a wide range of strategic commodities and cargoes. Its roughly 50-strong modern fleet includes LNG and LPG carriers, product tankers, Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs), Ultra Large Ore Carriers (ULOCs), bulk carriers and containerships.