Carnival Megaships: Gibraltar Debates LNG Safety

The 180,000gt Costa LNG ship

The 180,000gt Costa LNG ship (Image courtesy of Costa)

Carnival cruise Line’s decision to order four liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) powered 180,000gt mega-ships has been highlighted by the Gibraltar Government in an  on-going row over proposals to develop LNG bunkering infrastructure.

The cruise ships (2 for the AIDA and 2 for Costa cruise brands) will be delivered in 2019 and 2020. They will be powered by LNG hybrid engines and carry up to 6,600 passengers, giving them the largest guest capacity in the world.

“This demonstrates that the use of LNG is becoming mainstream around the world and in particular in the shipping industry,” said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo in a statement.

The harbour at Gibraltar.

The harbour at Gibraltar.

“It also demonstrates how safe a fuel LNG is. An American corporation like Carnival Cruises would not put up to 6,600 passengers in a situation of unacceptable risk or danger.” “As a Government we have already got in touch with Carnival to ensure that we see these new ships call at Gibraltar, refuelling and bringing us huge numbers of tourists.”

Carnival says: “Pioneering a new era in the use of sustainable fuels, the four new ships will be the first in the cruise industry to use LNG in dual-powered hybrid engines to power the ship both in port and on the open sea” Carnival said.

“LNG will be stored on board and used to generate 100% power at sea – producing another industry-first innovation for Carnival Corporation and its brands.”

“Using LNG to power the ships in port and at sea will eliminate emissions of soot particles and sulphur oxides.”

The statement above by Carnival was flagged up by the Gibraltar Government as evidence of the shift in the maritime industry toward the use of LNG as a fuel.

LNG bunker barge and Viking Grace an LNG ferry. See her external tanks on the stern. (Karl Gabor )

LNG bunker barge and Viking Grace. LNG ferry. Click to enlarge (Karl Gabor )

The government is exploring the possibility of establishing LNG bunkering operations alongside infrastructure for a new power station powered by gas and diesel. But the project has drawn flak from the Opposition, which has expressed serious concerns about the safety of siting LNG operations so close to built-up areas.

However a report by leading risk assessor Lloyd’s Register concluded LNG operations could pose “potentially intolerable risks”. The government responded that the report was based on incomplete data about its proposals.

Yesterday Mr Picardo renewed the government’s criticism of the Gibraltar Social Democrats on this issue.

“Given that the Opposition have already said that they will not allow LNG bunkering or the operation of an LNG facility storage and regasification facility, which is exactly what these vessels have on board, the public can clearly see that the position of Mr Feetham is highly detrimental to Gibraltar’s economic interests, from tourism to bunkering and the cost of electricity generation,” he said.

“Would he now propose to ban these Carnival ships coming to Gibraltar? Would he ban Gibraltarians from cruising on them?”

“The nonsensical nature of the GSD’s arguments is slowly being exposed. The danger to our economy of their opportunistic position is becoming palpable.”

“The safe future of marine propulsion, power generation and bunkering is clearly in the use of LNG. That is where we will position Gibraltar for maximum economic advantage.”

(Source: Courtesy of Gibraltar Chronicle/Redazione GNL)

Costa's 180,000gt LNG ship

Costa’s 180,000gt LNG ship (Image courtesy of Costa)

Malcolm says: There is much internet debate about the safety of LNG. They seems to be many contradictory opinions from both the  the expert and amateur commentators.

I’m no expert, but as far as I see it, all transport which uses fossil fuels has the challenge of safely storing and burning a very explosive substance. We rely on technology to do so. That applies equally to your car, an aircraft or conventional ship.

Carnival are obviously convinced about the fuels safety, economic and environmental advantages.  If the ports want these big ships, they will need to offer LNG.

Carnival are the only cruise line that are building LNG ships. Being the worlds biggest, they cannot be ignored.  We will soon see how successful this experiment is, if the other major cruise lines begin to order LNG ships too.

Like it or not, Carnival obviously think LNG is the future.

So what is an LNG powered Ship? See Here

The New Costa’s Megaships Analysed. See Here

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