Energy of change: what fuel is needed for Russian ships?
The purpose of those pursuing the ‘green agenda’ is not always ‘green’. The Europeans are the most ardent advocates of rejecting the conventional ‘heavy fuel’, since they do not have their own oil. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is referred to as an ‘intermediate’ type of fuel, which, according to some European market players, can and should be ‘skipped over’ in favor of switching to ammonia, hydrogen and biofuels. However, it is noteworthy that LNG-powered shipping is being actively developed in Northern Europe which has the reserves of natural gas.
In this context, Russia also has some trump cards. First of all, it is natural gas, especially amid the decreasing demand for it from the European Union. In our opinion, the use of liquefied natural gas should become one of the priorities for the domestic shipping and shipbuilding as those industries develop and gas exports by pipelines decrease.
The more so as in previous years we saw quite an intense development of the related infrastructure. Last autumn, a small-scale LNG production facility CS Portovaya was launched near Vysotsk. Even earlier, Cryogas-Vysotsk plant was launched in the same region. Gazpromneft Marine Bunker, in its turn, put into operation the first LNG bunkering tanker Dmitry Mendeleev, which is successfully operating in the Baltic, thereby creating the preconditions for regular bunkering of ships with liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Russian ports.
When it comes to the demand from shipowners, PAO Sovcomflot has been building up its LNG fleet over the past years. Besides, two dual-fuel ferries of FSUE Rosmorport, Marshal Rokossovsky and General Chernyakhovsky, entered Ust-Luga-Baltiysk line last year.
Nuclear energy is also promising for Russian shipping. Russia has accumulated unique experience and competencies in this segment. Apart from nuclear-powered icebreakers, container carrier Sevmorput is being actively operated. Besides, construction of nuclear-powered transport fleet is under consideration in view of organizing a regular line on the Northern Sea Route.
The segment of ships with electric propulsion is also being actively developed. Of course, we are talking about a quite narrow, but still extremely important segment: passenger pleasure craft. Such electric vessels are planned to be widely introduced in Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Krasnoyarsk, on river Kama and in other regions.
It should be noted that when we talk about gas and nuclear energy we mean higher competitiveness as compared with shipowners in Western countries since Russia has enormous gas reserves and unique competencies in the field of nuclear energy. And electricity is cheaper in Russia. Thus, the focus on the ‘correct’ ‘green agenda’ may contribute to a successful development of the domestic shipping.