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Existing fleet and current orderbooks

LNG carriers

The global LNG market has led to a worldwide fleet of LNG carriers that transport LNG to regasification plants around the world. After regasification, the gas is fed into national distribution grids for energy purposes or distributed for use as a transport fuel. Most LNG carriers can burn the boil-off gas of the tank on board to provide propulsion power, while others run on HFO. There are approximately 370 LNG carriers in operation, of which 260 have steam turbines able to burn HFO or boil-off gas. Another 60 LNG carriers are equipped as dual-fuel.

LNG-fuelled ships

The number of LNG-fuelled ships in the global fleet is still limited. Recent information from DNV GL(Feb. 2014) shows an operational fleet of 47 LNG-fuelled vessels, with another 48 confirmed for delivery by the end of  2018. This implies a doubling of the fleet over the period 2013-2018.


                          Development of LNG-fuelled fleet (2014, DNV, LNG for shipping - current status)

                                          Note: excluding LNG carriers and inland barges


The next figure provides a breakdown of the LNG-fuelled fleet per vessel type. Although the fleet is currently dominated by regional ferries and platform supply vessels (PSVs), the order books show a growing differentiation and a trend towards larger vessels like container ships and general cargo ships. LNG will be especially beneficial for vessels operating mainly in ECAs, such as those active in coastal shipping like ferries and offshore vessels, but also feeder container vessels distributing containers from larger to smaller ports in ECAs. See the business case section.


                      Breakdown of LNG-fuelled fleet by vessel type in 2010, 2014 and 2018


Of the 95 confirmed LNG-fuelled ships worldwide, approximately half of which are already operational, a majority (about 56) will operate in Norway and two in the Baltic Sea. One reason for the high share of LNG-fuelled ships in Norway is the NOx fund unique to that country, which provides a financial incentive to such vessels. The European Union has identified a role for LNG in its transport strategy for 2020 and is promoting the development of LNG facilities by means of subsidies. In North America there is growing interest in the use of LNG, with three U.S.-flag container ship operators having announced ship conversions and/or new-builds using LNG as a fuel.


It was recently announced that a first RoRo ferry with liquefied natural gas propulsion will provide future regular liner service between Melbourne (Australia) and Devonport (Tasmania). The liquefied natural gas will be taken on board the ship in mobile tanks during regular ship loading and unloading. The new-build will be 181 metres long, 26.6 metres wide and have more than 1960 lane metres available. It is planned to deliver the ship in the third quarter of 2016.

LNG-ready vessels

Because the stricter IMO requirements have not yet come into force, many ship owners have still not decided which mitigating technology they will apply from 2015 onwards or prefer to wait before retrofitting their vessels. In preparation for actual retrofit, some ship owners are assessing the technical feasibility and financial appeal of LNG. By documenting these steps, ship owners can promote a vessel as being LNG-ready, with the option to retrofit the vessel in the short term.

LNG bunker vessels

Ship-to-ship bunkering requires LNG bunker vessels: small LNG tankers with a capacity between 1,000 m3 and 3,000 m3. Several designs of LNG bunker vessels have already been published, opening the door to construction in the near future.


Various stakeholders are working together to provide ship-to-ship bunkering. Vessel capacities differ significantly from very small to up to 10,000 m3. In 2012 the Port of Stockholm was the first port to offer such bunkering, specifically for the Viking Grace, a large passenger vessel. The bunker vessel, named SEAGAS (187 m3 capacity), is a ferry converted with the aid of TEN-T funding. The Port of Antwerp is currently working closely with EXMAR to build an LNG bunker vessel for operation in the port.


DNV GL reports that the currently approved bunker ship designs are relatively small and will be unable to meet the high bunker demand from larger container vessels operating between Europe and Asia.

Further reading

Order book

The LNG-fuelled fleet in operation in 2016 will be double the size of the current fleet. The order book shows a shift towards larger ship types like tankers, container ships, general cargo ships and RoRo ships. In Europe and North America, especially, significant growth is expected.