As the market for dual-fuel engines on gas carriers drives compressor sales, some are seizing newer, niche opportunities

Babcock LGE business has secured a contract for LPG cargo handling and the fuel gas supply system (FGSS) for the world’s first newbuild vessel to use LPG as a primary fuel source. The 86,000m3 carrier, ordered by an Asian shipowner, is being built in China’s Jiangnan Shipyard and will be delivered in January 2021.



Babcock’s FGSS will supply fuel to the MAN Energy Solutions main engine from LPG fuelled in a deck tank. The supply unit is integrated with cargo handling for transfer between the two systems during voyages. Babcock has worked with MAN for the past year and a half to ensure the correct LPG fuel delivery condition from FGSS to the main engine.

“Babcock’s co-operation with us covers the fuel-gas supply system underpinning the ME-LGIP engine,” says MAN promotion manager dual-fuel engines, René Sejer Laursen. “This is the first newbuilding project to exploit LPG as a fuel and is a great showcase for both our companies’ technologies. Babcock’s extensive experience within the LPG sphere and, not least, within the reliquefaction process, has proved invaluable.”

The vessel’s cargo handling system will also be equipped with Babcock’s vent gas cooler technology, which increases cargo handling capacity and improves efficiency. The technology is used on more than 80 LPG carriers.

Babcock has also received a contract to conduct a front-end engineering design study into an LPG fuel system upgrade as a retrofit onto a number of very large gas carriers (VLGCs). This will ensure compliance with IMO’s sulphur cap as well as leading to fuel efficiency improvements.

“To be able to provide the first ever oil-free gas screw compression technology for gas carriers is a significant step in the evolution of our products”

Meanwhile it is the LNG carrier market that remains the biggest driver for gas compressor sales. Atlas Copco has secured a compressor order from Samsung Heavy Industries in Korea for a total of eight centrifugal gas compressors, eight oil-free gas screw compressors, and accompanying heaters and vapourisers. The equipment will be used on four gas carrier vessels commissioned by Celsius Tankers.

The new vessels will use oil-free gas screw compressors to feed the Winterthur Gas & Diesel’s dual-fuel X-DF engines – a first application for Atlas Copco’s units in the ship sector. The new compressor technology was designed to meet modern carrier needs, including pressure requirements for X-DF engines and reduced flow of boil-off gas, due to improved insulation.

The compressors’ oil-free design allows for longer maintenance intervals compared to oil-flooded compressors, according to the company, and can be used with a reliquefaction system without any risk of oil contamination in heat exchangers or LNG cargo. “This order is a milestone in our marine LNG product development,” said Robert Radimeczky, president of the gas and process division. “To be able to provide the first ever oil-free gas screw compression technology for carrier vessels is a significant step in the evolution of our products.”

The first units will be delivered from Atlas Copco beginning October 2019, with the remainder of the machinery to be delivered in the second quarter of 2020.

Low-pressure dual-fuel engines are also providing a market for reciprocating compressors according to Swiss specialist Burckhardt Compression. The company recently won a contract to outfit a newbuild 30,000-m3 LNG carrier to be operated by Knutsen OAS Shipping with its Laby compressors.

The compressors will be delivered to Hyundai Mipo Dockyard as part of a fuel gas supply system designed by Wärtsilä. It will supply the LNG carrier’s Win GD X-DF engines, which will run on boil-off gas as fuel.

Part of the decision to choose Burckhardt Compression products for the Knutsen project was likely the robustness of the system. As an illustration, the very first Laby-GI compressor is still going strong on floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) Golar Breeze after 10 years of service. Now Golar Management in Norway has decided to re-market the vessel with a different function that requires a major revamp of the compressor, for which Burckhardt Compression has been awarded the contract.

The new charterer in Jamaica will use the compressor for a different purpose, delivering gas to the country’s power utility, JPS. This requires an increase in discharge pressure from 45 to 65 bar that, in turn, requires an additional compression stage along with extra auxiliaries, piping and other modifications.

Golar vessel manager Gabriele Pipitone said: “The technical solution offered and the tight delivery time for this project completely met our expectations. We are pleased to have found the solution for revamping the MSO compressor.”

Vard has selected compressors for its air systems on board two new cruise ships, to be built for Norwegian owner Viking Cruises.

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The compressors will be delivered by fellow Oslo-based company TMC. The supplier’s scope of work is to deliver a complete marine compressed air system, comprising instrument air compressors and air dryers, to each of the new ships.

“The international cruise sector increasingly emphasises reduced energy consumption and lower emissions to air,” says TMC European sales manager Morten Orlien. “Our compressed air systems are becoming progressively more popular among cruise operators and shipbuilders simply because we can offer a highly energy efficient system that is also highly reliable.”

The two new ships are scheduled to be delivered to Viking Cruises in the second quarters of 2021 and 2022, respectively. They are designed by Vard Design in Aalesund, Norway and will be finished and have superstructures added at Vard’s Norwegian yards. The hulls will be built at Vard facilities in Romania. Viking Cruises also has an option to order two additional vessels from Vard.

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