This story was originally published in The West Australian on 21 February 2017 with the headline "Woodside makes big waves with clean ship." © Peter Milne.
Woodside Energy’s ambition to be at the forefront of ships moving to cleaner fuel took an early step last night with the christening in Fremantle of its first LNG-powered vessel.
The Siem Thiima is a 90m-long platform support vessel built in Poland. It has been working out of Karratha since last month supplying Woodside’s offshore platforms and floating production vessels.
Woodside chief operations officer Mike Utsler said there were more than 200 LNG-powered vessels in operation globally with about another 200 under construction.
However, the Siem Thiima and the Searoad Mersey II, a roll-on roll-off ferry that arrived in Devonport in December to serve the Bass Strait market, are the only two in Australia.
Mr Utsler said Woodside was looking to move the 50-strong fleet of vessels supporting its operations to LNG fuel over the next five years.
The oil and gas producer is building an LNG truck-loading facility at its Pluto plant in Karratha to first fuel its fleet and then compete with diesel in the Pilbara for locomotives and power generation.
The plant is due to be operating by the end of the year. Until then the Siem Thiima will be fuelled by Wesfarmers’ Evol LNG.
Evol LNG business manager Nick Rea said new international rules requiring less sulphur emissions from ships by 2020 were driving the interest in LNG as a marine fuel.
“LNG is a cleaner fuel than marine diesel, emitting 25 per cent less carbon dioxide, less nitrogen oxides and almost zero sulphur oxides and particulates,” he said.
Mr Utsler said there were three ways for ships to meet the requirements; expensive ultra-low sulphur diesel fuels, fitting “scrubber” systems to existing ships, or LNG. The Pilbara consumed three billion litres of diesel a year and ships visiting there consumed five billion litres of marine fuel a year.
The ship was christened by Jill Churnside, a noted artist and Ngarluma elder. Thiima is the Ngarluma word for ocean-going vessel.
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Main image: EVOL trucks fuels Siem Thiima with LNG at Fremantle. Source: Wesfarmers.