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Passenger Ship Technology

Costa Smeralda paves the way for LNG

Thu 12 Oct 2017 by Rebecca Moore

Costa Smeralda paves the way for LNG
Snapshot CV Tom Strang

Carnival reveals the progress it has made in building the infrastructure needed for LNG and establishing it as a power source, paving the way for other cruise operators. Rebecca Moore attended Costa Smeralda’s steel cutting at Meyer Turku 

Carnival Corp has revealed the LNG strategy and technology behind Costa Cruises’ two LNG-fuelled newbuilds as it cuts steel on its first – Costa Smeralda – at Meyer Turku shipyard.

“Clearly we see LNG as the best solution for the future,” said Carnival Corp senior vice president maritime affairs Tom Strang during the event. “It is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel that is available today and meets and exceeds regulatory requirements. We expect 20-25% reduction in CO2 from these ships.”

He told Passenger Ship Technology “Personally, I see LNG as the fuel for the future.” But it is not just his view, since LNG is a huge part of Carnival’s strategy going forward: as well as Costa Cruises’ two newbuilds, it is being used on five other ships on Carnival Corp’s orderbook.

The plan is for Costa Smeralda to run 100% on LNG, despite having dual-fuel engines – marine gas oil will only be used for ignition for the LNG and as a back-up for safe return to port. Only a tiny amount will be used for ignition, around 0.1 g/kWh.

As the first cruise ships to run purely on LNG in the world, there were a lot of considerations and challenges, with a major one being bunkering and bunkering infrastructure.

While the LNG process started with Carnival Corp’s AIDA Cruises’ AidaPrima, it  only uses LNG in port, so Mr Strang was keen to differentiate between those vessels and the bigger leap that the Costa Cruises’ vessels have taken with LNG.

“We started with AidaPrima. But these [Costa Cruises’ newbuilds] are next-generation for us and represent a significant investment in developing a new supply chain and having a regulatory framework that supports us.”

Creating a regulatory framework

The regulatory framework was crucial. Italian class society RINA is classing Carnival’s two LNG-fuelled vessels and RINA Services chief operating officer for Europe, Middle East and Africa Massimo Volta underlined this point. He told Passenger Ship Technology “In my view the first challenge was that, when the idea came to Carnival, we had no consolidated standards to be applied to a large quantity of LNG so we needed to have a regulatory framework within which to work.”

RINA was involved in setting up the International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code), which is being used as a framework for AIDAnova and its sister ship Costa Smeralda.

Aside from the regulatory framework, Mr Strang emphasised that building strong partnerships was key to building a cruise ship fuelled by LNG “One of the key messages is that this is a lot about partnerships – it has been very important to develop partnerships with our key component manufacturers and suppliers.” That partnership includes RINA and Meyer Turku.

“We needed a shipyard with a proven track record [in LNG] which it has; we can leverage that experience,” Mr Strang said. As well as building LNG carriers, the shipyard has built Viking Line’s Viking Grace and Tallink’s Megastar.

He also highlighted how forming a partnership was crucial for developing the LNG bunkering supply chain “LNG is not as widely available as we would like it to be but we are working on that and we have a partner that supports us in this: we have chosen Shell and have worked with them to build the infrastructure worldwide.”

Carnival Corp has signed a framework agreement with Shell Western LNG (Shell) to supply fuel to power the LNG-fuelled ships for AIDA Cruises and Costa Cruises.


Bunkering infrastructure boost


Mr Volta highlighted the importance of the work here when it comes to other cruise operators using LNG: “By going ahead with this project, we are trying to contribute to solving the problem of availability of LNG in ports.”


RINA, Carnival and Shell attended meetings with the Port of Rotterdam to look at how to make bunkering infrastructure available for Carnival’s LNG newbuilds. “Ports are aware [of Carnival’s requirements and are] trying to make the infrastructure available. Things are happening and this infrastructure will be available to others, meaning that Carnival is paving the way for others to do the same,” said Mr Volta.


“At least the ice is broken for this fuel option to be viable for other cruise ship operators, which is a nice side effect of the project that goes beyond the ship itself,” he added.


These efforts in boosting LNG bunkering infrastructure will also have a knock-on effect on infrastructure providers. “As soon as they see a bigger market for LNG they will see the advantage of providing more infrastructure,” Mr Volta said.

Carnival has chosen to bunker its new ships via ship-to-ship, due to the large volumes of LNG needed. The amount of fuel needed for the ship’s 3,600 m3 of bunker tanks means that it would not have time to wait in port to be bunkered by trucks. This will be enough fuel for the ship to operate for 14 days between refuelling.

Meyer Turku has built the LNG tanks in-house, tailor-making them for the Costa newbuilds. The fuel will be stored in these type C tanks at a working pressure of 0.7 bars. The tanks are located in their own hold spaces and the engineroom spaces will have double-wall pipes used for gas lines and gas control valves located in their own safe spaces.

The size of the tanks was a challenge. Mr Strang told Passenger Ship Technology “[The LNG tanks] are roughly double the size of the equivalent [oil] fuel tanks but by careful design and work with the shipyard we minimised their impact on the overall design.”


Membrane LNG tanks to take off in passenger ships

LNG tank system designer GTT (Gaztransport & Technigaz) is targeting large ferries, cruise ships and the expedition cruise sector and is currently in talks with major ship owners and shipyards about the use of its systems as LNG fuel tanks.

While it has no confirmed orders in this market yet, it is confident of the interest of cruise shipowners in GTT solutions. Indeed, LNG-as-fuel director Julien Bec told Passenger Ship Technology that he expected the cruise segment to represent 20% of GTT’s LNG fuel portfolio in the coming years.

Explaining why he felt that the technology was suited to large ferries and cruise/expedition cruise, he said that the “big advantage” was that GTT’s tanks save a lot of space and can fit into specific geometries within the hull, allowing 50 to 55% of spare volume, which in turn allows the shipowner to place more cabins or cargo. Alternatively, there is more space for an extra capacity of LNG fuel for more autonomy, leading to a potential for an increase in profit and cost optimisation.

GTT’s membrane type tank can be built following the shape of the hull, which is why unnecessary void space can be eliminated, as opposed to a cylindrical tank which leaves unused space around it. GTT’s Mark III membrane system is a cryogenic containment system directly supported by the ship’s structure. This system is composed of a primary metallic membrane positioned on top of two layers of prefabricated insulation panel separated by another secondary membrane.

The retrofit market is also of great interest to GTT. Mr Bec said it especially suited GTT’s product. “We can use the space formerly used by a HFO tank, and install our technology instead. Thanks to the modularity of the system, we can install the membrane while the ship is in operation, therefore spending a minimum time in drydock,” explained Mr Bec.

Summing up the impact that GTT feels that LNG will have on the passenger ship market, he said “Five years ago LNG was an option, now HFO is an option.”


Carnival’s LNG orderbook

o   AIDA Cruises (AIDAnova); delivery Q3 2018

o   Costa Cruises (Costa Smeralda); delivery October 2019

o   Carnival Cruise Line; delivery 2020

o   P&O Cruises UK; delivery 2020

o   AIDA Cruises; delivery 2021

o   Costa Cruises; delivery 2021

o   Carnival Cruise Line; delivery 2022


Snapshot CV Tom Strang

Carnival Corp senior vice president of maritime affairs Tom Strang is taking the lead on Carnival’s LNG strategy. Previously he was senior vice president of marine operations at Costa Cruises for three years. Prior to this, he was responsible for developing policy in health, environment and safety areas of maritime operations for Carnival Corp. Before that he worked for Carnival Corporate Shipbuilding as principal safety manager and with Lloyd’s Register as a surveyor specialising in passenger ship safety.

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