Cargill said it is working with several firms to assess the potential of powering its deep-sea ships with LNG.
The company said it's working with the classification society DNV GL, Royal Dutch Shell and international advisory firm Xyntéo to "evaluate possible ways to use LNG for dry bulk and tanker vessels."
"The increasing range of emissions regulations plus the potential introduction of new emission control areas should see LNG-fuelled ships grow in competitiveness – making a transition potentially viable," the companies said in a press release.
Roger Janson, president of Cargill’s ocean transportation business, said his company "operates over 500 vessels at any given time, and we have a close relationship with vessel owners. Together, we are continuously looking for new ways to improve the efficiency and environmental impact of the fleet, something which is also of growing importance to our customers.
"The use of LNG as a shipping fuel for bulk vessels still poses a number of technical, operational, and commercial challenges that need to be carefully evaluated. But we are confident that LNG will play an important role in the future of shipping, and we are proud to be part of this effort,” he added.
The companies noted there are currently 38 LNG-fueled ships in operation worldwide, in addition to LNG carriers. These vessels are primarily found in Scandinavia, and are generally car and passenger ferries used in coastal and short-sea shipping – although other types of vessels, like chemical tankers, have also started using the fuel.
The types of ships under consideration for LNG-fuelling by Cargill and its partners are ocean-going dry bulk vessels, which have few opportunities to refuel at sea. The potential use of LNG fuel for tankers will also be explored.
The companies involved are looking at investments that would begin in or around 2016.
Mark Klein, a Cargill spokeman, clarified that “at any one time we have about 500 chartered vessels on the water” and said "we recently became part of a joint venture that would build some vessels, but the focus will remain on charters.”
He added “we are in the early stages of looking at the potential of LNG.”
In February, Bloomberg
reported a joint venture in which Cargill is involved resulted in a letter of intent to buy an unnamed number of Cape-size bulkers from Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Co. It also said this was a reversal in recent company policy—while the company had purchased its first vessel in 1967, it shifted to chartering ships in 2001.