Belgian dredging group DEME has ordered what it says will be the world’s first two liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered dredgers from Dutch shipbuilder Royal IHC for an undisclosed price.
The two trailing suction hopper dredgers will have a dual fuel capability, enabling them to use LNG or diesel, and are due to go into operation before the end of next year.
DEME head of construction and conversion Jan Gabriel told IHS Maritime that the two vessels were destined for use in the European market and that, after extensive study, the group had come to the conclusion that LNG propulsion was the best solution to ensure that they complied with marine fuel sulphur limits in sulphur emission control areas.
He said that the size of DEME’s fleet had enabled it to play a pioneering role in opting for LNG-powered vessels.
“We have the luxury of being able to specialise,” he said, adding, “we are very excited about going this way and entering a new path and a new technology.”
The first vessel, described as an all-rounder, will be 104 m long with a maximum draught of 7.5 m and a hopper volume of about 8,000m3. The second, destined for maintenance dredging in shallow water, will be 77 m long, with a maximum draught of 5 m and a hopper volume of 3,000 m3.
Gabriel said that, in opting for LNG propulsion, DEME was banking on adequate bunkering infrastructure being ready for the operation of the two vessels. In the event that difficulties were encountered in obtaining LNG, however, the dual fuel capability of the two vessels would enable them to operate on diesel fuel.
He indicated that the group could order other LNG-enabled vessels for operation in other parts of the world in future in preparation for stricter sulphur regulations worldwide expected in the 2020s. However, he said that these would not necessarily be fitted with LNG tanks from the start.