On behalf of the American Clean Skies Foundation, MJB&A prepared a comprehensive assessment of the opportunities for natural gas to power U.S. marine vessels, including tugs, barges, ferries, and Great Lakes bulk carriers. Most marine vessels today operate on liquid petroleum fuel – either marine distillate or marine residual oil. Worldwide there are fewer than 50 vessels in-service or on order that operate on natural gas. However, with natural gas prices at historic lows and new environmental regulations confronting ship operators, new opportunities are opening for significant fuel savings by relying on natural gas powered shipping and transport.
The Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico, in particular, offer excellent opportunities for the deployment of natural gas powered vessels. Earlier this year, Harvey Gulf International Marine announced plans to add two additional LNG Dual Fuel vessels to its fleet. Harvey Gulf operates a specialized fleet of vessels that service drilling and production operations in the Gulf of Mexico.
Natural gas offers the potential for significant fuel cost savings; however, the economics of a marine vessel conversion hinge on three key factors: vessel fuel use, delivered LNG prices, and vessel conversion costs. Our analysis examines the economics of converting to natural gas under a range of scenarios.