By: Jeroen Berger, August 1, 2017
According to the Dutch Social and Economic Council (SER) LNG will have the biggest market share of all the energy sources for the inland waterway transport by 2030. However, the expected weight of GTL for the inland waterway sector and pleasure cruising is surprising. The SER is telling us that they expect that the market share for GTL will be 11 and 19 percent for the years 2030 and 2050 respectively.
A lot of ship owners and shipping companies in the inland waterway transport are still unaware of this clean and biodegradable fuel. Is LNG for the maritime industry actually still the clean fuel for the future? We did some extensive research to answer the question whether GTL becomes the alternative for LNG for the inland waterway transport.
What does GTL stand for?
GTL, short for Gas to Liquid, is a synthetic liquid diesel fuel made of gas. This fuel, suitable for marine diesel engines, is ultra clean and also biodegradable. The chemical transformation process behind this fuel is known as Fischer-Tropsch. For more than 35 years, there have been done some studies to the technology and production of this synthetic liquid diesel fuel. Besides GTL there are other synthetic liquid fuels available, including BTL (Biomass to Liquid) and CTL (Coal to Liquid) with similar properties.
What exactly are the benefits of GTL?
Firstly, the emissions of (unsaturated) hydrocarbons, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulate matter are minimal contrary to the conventional diesel. The use of GTL is also beneficial for the human health. For example, GTL has been many times cleaner than the most cleanest conventional diesel fuel called MK1. This makes GTL particularly suitable for densely populated areas. If we are looking at the technical aspects, then GTL can be perfectly applied in existing inland waterway vessels without any amendment. Finally, and not without importance, this synthetic liquid diesel fuel made of gas eliminates a lot of smoke and unpleasant smells and in many cases there is also less noise.
GTL versus LNG
For LNG they expect that the over-investment for the use and distribution can be recouped quickly. The reason for that is that LNG will be less expensive than diesel due to the world’s supply, which will be much bigger than oil, they predict.
Worldwide there are many countries rich in gas to apply the GTL method and besides that GTL can be delivered through the existing distribution network by, for example, Shell and Chevron. So there will come a GTL market directly, which makes financing for a ship owner or shipping company a lot easier than with LNG.
What will be your clean fuel strategy?
A question that many ship owners or shipping companies will have, is: shall I choose for Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) with the use of a scrubber, Marine Gas Oil (MGO), Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), bio-LNG, biodiesel, or GTL? Berger Maritiem is following the latest developments of available marine fuels closely and will be pleased to advice you with choosing the right fuel for your type of ship and operational sailing profile regarding the more restrictive regulations to reduce emissions of harmful gases by ships.