May 10, 2019. Maritime transport emits around 940 million tons of CO2 per year and is responsible for around 3% of the emissions of gases from global climate change. These emissions will increase significantly if measures are not taken quickly, since maritime transport is expected to grow in almost all sectors, beginning with cruises. According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), they could increase between 50% and 250% by 2050, which will undermine the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Compared to current marine fuels, liquid methane reduces CO2 emissions by 15%, nitrogen methane by 70%, fine dust by more than 90%, while sulfur oxides are zero. These emissions allow LNG vessels to sail in all the seas of the world and stop in all ports (where the emission limits are stricter than in the open sea) respecting the limits established by the IMO (especially the content of 0,5% sulfur as of January 1, 2020). Since the beginning of the decade, liquefied natural gas has been identified as the best substitute for petroleum fuels and, since then, more than 150 vessels (25 in 2018 only) have entered service and regularly sail, especially ferries and short-distance ships, but also oil tankers. These are not very large numbers compared to the existing ships, but the perspective changes if we look at the new constructions: considering that in 2018, 135 orders were made between oil tankers, cruises, containers and other types, we see how the relationship between the LNG and traditional boats is growing very fast.

The year 2019 marks the date of definitive affirmation of maritime LNG with the arrival of the first large cruise ships, refueled while they are still anchored or next to the docks of the port. Last April, AIDAnova, the largest cruise ship in the world, sailed for the first time in the Mediterranean, followed by the Coral Methane tanker (with a capacity of approximately 7,500 m3 of LNG), which supplies it next to the port of Barcelona. Today, another twenty cruisers that can use LNG are under construction or have been ordered. The state of the art of the sector, the details of the new market and future prospects will be illustrated directly by the protagonists at the next International Conference on the direct uses of LNG – “Small-scale use of LNG, Euro-Mediterranean Conference and Expo” – in Naples, Italy, on May 15 and 16.