New LNG fuel tank rules

New LNG fuel tank rules

Interferry has welcomed the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) decision to regulate the location of fuel tanks onboard LNG-powered ships.

Following cross-industry coordination, key member states attended a meeting of the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee and agreed regulations that protect tanks from impacts in the event of collision or grounding, while avoiding the potentially prohibitive requirements of other proposals.

Until now the IMO mandated that the placement of fuel tanks was judged by prescriptive rules and calculation models. As LNG is more voluminous per energy content than conventional fuels and needs bigger tank systems, this meant that vessels were expected to refuel at every port of call.

Ship designers will now have two options for fuel tank location. The first option allows ferries and other ships to make use of the same rules that apply to large LNG tankers, which mandate that LNG fuel tanks must be placed at a distance from the hull of at least 20% of the width of the ship. This minimises the chance of them being impacted during a collision.

Alternatively, tanks may be located closer to the hull if the placement can be made equally safe through measures such as making the tanks shorter to distance them from a potential strike area.

“While we strongly advocate safe designs and solutions, we also support the development of new technologies that will help increase the sustainability of our industry,” said Johan Roos, Interferry’s regulatory affairs director. “The IMO decision provides a predictable framework for the protection of LNG tanks and removes concerns over rules that in effect would have made LNG non-accessible as a fuel for ferries due to too restrictive requirements on tank location and size.”

Roos added: “Interferry looks forward to renewed IMO debate on developing a more sophisticated approach at a later point in time, when much more empirical knowledge will have been accrued by ship designers, ship yards, operators and flag administrations.”

Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
25 November 2014