United European Car Carriers (UECC) has signed a contract for the construction of two LNG-powered Pure Car/Truck Carriers (PCTCs). A single MAN B&W 8S50ME-GI dual-fuel engine will power each newbuilding. The PCTCs will be capable of operating on LNG fuel, heavy fuel oil or marine gas oil, providing greater flexibility and efficiency. They represent the first such vessels globally to be fitted with an LNG propulsion system. When in service, they will be capable of completing a fourteen-day round trip in the Baltic operating solely on LNG, including main engine and auxiliary power generation. UECC ordered the newbuildings in conjunction with a long-term fleet evaluation process concerning its Baltic fleet. Among the key requirements for new tonnage was an ability to meet all expected environmental legislation (SECA).
In this respect, LNG is recognised as the cleanest and most environmentally friendly choice of fuel suitable for marine transport. LNG fuel significantly reduces CO2 and NOx emissions, as well as almost entirely eliminating oxides of sulphur (SOx) and particulate emissions. To this end, UECC has signed an exclusive contract for the supply of LNG fuels to the vessels in the port of Zeebrugge using a dedicated LNG ship-to-ship bunker vessel. The vessels will be constructed at the NACKS shipyard in Nantong, China, which is a joint venture between Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) and China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company. Delivery for both vessels is scheduled for the second half of 2016.
Glenn Edvardsen, CEO of UECC, has previously stated: “The LNG installation is a pioneering design and will be one of the largest employed on a commercial vessel and the largest yet of its kind on a pure car and truck carrier. We are proud of the exciting step UECC is taking towards greener and more environmentally friendly shipping.” Edvardsen also said: “UECC will be able to provide our customers with transportation in the Baltic area with unparalleled efficiency, reliability and superior environmental performance”. The ME-GI engine represents the culmination of many years’ work and gives shipowners and operators the option of utilising fuel or gas depending on relative price and availability, as well as environmental considerations. The ME-GI uses high-pressure gas injection that allows it to maintain the numerous positive attributes of MAN B&W low-speed engines that have made them the default choice of the maritime community. MAN Diesel & Turbo sees significant opportunities arising for gas-fuelled tonnage as fuel prices rise and modern exhaust-emission limits tighten. Indeed, research indicates that the ME-GI engine delivers significant reductions in CO2, NOx and SOx emissions. Furthermore, the ME-GI engine’s negligible fuel slip makes it the most environmentally friendly technology available. As such, the ME-GI engine represents a highly efficient, flexible, propulsion-plant solution. An ME-LGI counterpart that uses LPG, methanol and other liquid gasses is also available, and has already been ordered.