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Shell to fuel some Rhine barges with LNG

LONDON, Sept 5 | Wed Sep 5, 2012 7:23am EDT

(Reuters) – Shell has turned to liquefied natural gas (LNG)-powered barges to transport oil products along the river Rhine as tougher environmental standards drive a switch to less polluting fuels.

Shell said on Wednesday it has chartered two newbuild barges fueled by LNG and expects to use it to power more of its inland shipping.

The move away from oil was a first for Shell and the inland marine industry, the company said in a statement. The Rhine is an important shipping route for commodities including grains, minerals, coal and oil products including heating oil.

It is a major route for Switzerland’s commodity imports.

Barges have run on fuels with a high sulphur content, but new anti-pollution laws imposed by the European Union (EU) will require the sulphur content in shipping fuels to fall sharply from 2015.

“Shell sees real growth opportunities for LNG as a fuel in coastal and inland shipping in Europe,” Shell Vice President for Shipping Grahaeme Henderson said in a statement.

“LNG can help shipping operators meet strict emissions standards, such as those that are due to apply on the Rhine,” he added.

The extent of emission reductions mandated by new EU laws varies according to region.

Ships plying sulphur emission control areas in the Baltic, North Sea and English Channel must reduce sulphur content to 0.1 percent compared with 1 percent now. While in other EU waters, they will be limited to 0.5 percent sulphur content by 2020.

Shell expects to receive the first of its two LNG-fuelled barges in the spring of 2013 from Netherlands-based Interstream Barging.


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