Transport ministry plans cleaner marine gas stations

The Transport Ministry plans to open liquefied natural gas (LNG) stations along the eastern seaboard for vessels using clean energy, according to Pailin Chuchottaworn, deputy transport minister.

The LPG stations can help Thai vessels trying to meet cleaner fuel standards prescribed by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The shipping industry is among the world’s largest emitters of sulphur behind the energy industry, with the sulphur oxides (SOx) content in heavy fuel oil up to 3,500 times higher than the latest European diesel standards for vehicles.

In a bid to cut down the hazardous SOx and reduce fossil fuel consumption, IMO will ban vessels running on fuel with sulphur dioxide content above 0.5%. The ban will be effective since Jan 1, 2020.

Maritime transport is also responsible for 2.5% of global emissions. IMO estimated the emission from fossil fuel consumed by this sector can skyrocket over 200 times by 2050 if nothing has been done to reduce fossil fuel consumption.

“We would like to take the opportunity to develop the two seaports in Chon Buri and Rayong provinces to be in line with international practices, especially turning them into LNG stations to fuel vessels,” he said.

“LNG is the energy of the future with zero sulphur-dioxide emissions and a comparatively low price,” Mr Pailin said yesterday in the seminar “IMO 70: Our Heritage — Better Shipping for a Better Future”.

Mr Pailin said the local maritime transport sector should be ready for the IMO’s ban and must become more environmentally friendly.

“The future of challenges in the maritime transport industry will no longer be just about safety. The sector will face new challenges on environmental fronts. Yet, vessels are still emitting high levels of sulphur dioxide. The industry must improve now as there is no way to renegotiate [with IMO standard],” Mr Pailin said.

A representative from the Pollution Control Department (PCD) said the subcommittee on marine ecology is speaking to representatives from marine and oil companies about the development of low-sulphur oil.

Nuttapol Nopparatwong, the commercial planning manager of Thai Oil company, said the company is ready to provide bunker oil with lesser sulphur content for vessels.

The company plans to sell oil with less than 0.5% of sulphur dioxide content by next year, down from the current 3.5% content.

Maritime transportation is the country’s backbone of economic growth, accounting for the movement of 90% of Thai exports.

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