MAN Diesel & Turbo has signed a letter of intent with Wessels Reederei to supply the materials to convert three 1,000 TEU container vessels to operate using LNG fuel.
The deal follows MAN’s pivotal role in engineering the world’s first conversion of a container ship’s propulsion system from heavy fuel oil (HFO) to LNG with Wessels Reederei’s Wes Amelie.
Speaking exclusively to Container Shipping & Trade at the Europort exhibition in Rotterdam, Marcel Lodder, MAN’s project engineer, upgrades and retrofits who oversaw the Wes Amelie project, said of it “In June we converted the engine and the ship has been running fine since September on LNG and bunkering in Rotterdam… it’s pointing in the right direction, so therefore yesterday we signed a letter of intent for three further vessels.”
MAN intends to supply the material for the conversion kit of the main engines from the current 8L48/60B to 51/60DF and Mr Lodder believes the final steps to confirm the project will take place early in 2018.
Wes Amelie has 23 sister vessels that are almost identical, meaning that the conversions should be relatively simple.
Some of the funding for this project is from the German government, which helped to make it economically feasible. In addition, of course, MAN recently made a pledge offering €2M (US$2.3M) for the conversion of 10 HFO engines into gas engines, meaning a €200,000 subsidy per project. According to Mr Lodder, this project is “very likely” to qualify for this subsidy.
“The subsidy is made for sustainable access into the LNG market. That’s the idea behind it,” said Mr Lodder. “The more ships use LNG as a fuel for propulsion, the more you will see that the logistics for LNG improve.”