The term LNG stands for Liquified Natural Gas and is a natural gas produced from primarily cooled down methane. There are many similar characteristics with the natural gas used for households, power generation and industrial use.

LNG carriers have actually been fuelled by LNG since the 1950’s, i.e., the technology for storing, burning, and producing the product has been available for many years, and LNG is currently being used as fuel on more than 200 vessels, heavily dominated by LNG-carriers.

However, LNG is increasingly being considered as a ‘bridging’ fuel more than a long-term solution for bunkering. 


What characterises LNG?

All kinds of LNG are more or less entirely comprised of methane, which is a colourless, flammable, odourless gas at ambient temperatures. 

For LNG to become liquefied, it must be cooled to approximately -162°C. 
When liquefied, a reduction by a factor 600 of its volume will happen and unless it is heated and mixed with air, the gas is no longer flammable. 

The density of LNG is approximately half the density of VLSFO. However, it has a 20% higher calorific value. Therefore, to obtain the same energy output, a shipowner would need fuel tanks that are 1.8 - 9 times the size of traditional tanks. 

In the future, it may be replaced by e- or bio-LNG with lower carbon.

How is the infrastructure?

LNG is widely available at larger-scale import and export terminals and in many worldwide locations, there are ongoing investments in order to make LNG available for fuel supply. 

It is expected that before 2022, 200 LNG bunkering facilities are available. As of 2021, this number is around 165. Also, the number of LNG barges is expected to increase in the coming years, enabling a quicker turn-around for customers, as it is currently being delivered by truck. 

What about safety?

IMO adopted the IGF code for LNG and compressed natural gas, establishing a regulatory basis for LNG supply, in 2017.

Using LNG for bunkering purposes is fully regulated and governed by all class societies. 
Furthermore, a possible LNG spill in the ocean is deemed to be less hazardous to the environment than a fuel oil spill. This is due to the fast dispersion of LNG making the gas evaporate quickly. 

Using LNG as a bunker fuel does have risks associated due to its flammability and its extremely cold liquid temperature of -162°C. However, inhalation proves less of a risk since most of the gas used onboard vessels is in a liquid state. 

How is the price comparison between LNG and fuel oil?

Price publications for LNG benchmark are available on both cargo and delivered basis, and S&P Global Platts, Ship & Bunker, and Argus are publishing data for delivered LNG as bunker fuel on a daily basis.

In major ports, LNG derivative contracts by ICE and CME Group are offered, enabling fuel price hedging. 
At the moment, most LNG bunkers are typically sold on one- to five-year term contracts. However, spot volume is also seen in larger markets.

How does LNG impact the environment?

The life cycle emissions of LNG have little advantage on a well-to-wake basis over traditional marine fuels, except for SOx and particulate matter.
The high life cycle emissions are due to the relative unsustainable production of the product; however, this could be lowered by new production technology.

As a fuel, LNG will not produce any SOx-emissions. Also, its particulate matter emissions are very low compared to conventional bunker fuels. 
GHG emissions are up to 20% lower than the emissions of fuel oil, and the NOx emissions of LNG are also lower. 
A reduction in emissions would depend on the engine technology.


In case an engine is not able to combust all the methane, the gas can escape to the atmosphere. This is more frequently seen with duel-fuelled engines than with pure LNG engines.


FAME Between 80-95% reduction Between 30% reduction and 10% increase Reduce 90% Reduce 40-90%
HVO Between 80-95% reduction Up to 20% reduction Reduce 100% Up to 30% reduction
LNG Between 10-15% reduction Approximately 90% reduction 100% reduction Almost 100% reduction