BW LPG – A Greener Way Forward

BW LPG is pioneering environmentally friendly retrofits, reducing greenhouse gas emissions & setting an example for others to follow.

Listed in Norway and with a presence in over five countries, BW LPG is the world’s leading owner and operator of very large gas carriers (VLGCs).

With more than 80 years in maritime energy transportation and gas infrastructure solutions and over 50 years in the LPG shipping segment, BW LPG has a long-standing reputation as a leading provider of safe, reliable, and efficient liquified petroleum gas (LPG) transportation solutions. This reputation provides an important advantage in building and maintaining strong relationships with leading oil and gas companies,” says CEO Anders Onarheim, who has been involved with the company since 2003 and was appointed to his role last year.

Having the world’s largest fleet of VLGCs gives the company the capacity and flexibility to offer timely and reliable services anywhere in the world, providing 24/7 commercial and operational support to its customers.

The business’s scale, combined with its competence & experience, enables BW LPG to offer its clients innovative logistical solutions, affirms Mr Onarheim. “We have a large pool of experienced employees with extensive industry experience. Our officers and crew, with both in-company and in-industry experience, are a major competitive advantage in a market where charterers require significant experience from the senior crew.”

Leading the way

Environmentally sustainable operation is an objective that the company has been aiming to achieve for quite some time, investing significant resources in R&D and technology to drive energy efficiency and reduce emissions to air.

In pursuing that vision, BW LPG has recently embarked on a ground-breaking project and committed 12 of its vessels for retrofitting with pioneering LPG dual-fuel propulsion technology, an investment of over US$100M. This will give the company the most economical and environmentally friendly vessels in the industry.

Using LPG as a ship fuel results in lower emissions to air, eliminating most sulphur emissions and reducing particulate matter and black carbon emissions.

Mr Onarheim explains that the move is an opportunity to invest resources and expertise to launch technology that can be used to push the industry towards decarbonisation without having to order newbuilds. Moreover, LPG installations in a ship may also be suitable for potential zero-carbon fuels such as ammonia, therefore further extending the asset’s life.

The company’s first vessel to have this pioneering technology on-board, BW Gemini, sailed in October – a historic milestone for the company, and a core achievement in the pursuit of sustainable development.

The retrofitting process was completed at the Yiu Lian Dockyard in Shenzhen, China, took approximately 60 days and is estimated to have emitted 2,060 tons of carbon dioxide. According to the company which cites a report by DNV-GL, this is approximately 97 per cent lower when compared to ordering a newbuild with similar technology.

Mr Onarheim points out that investing in retrofitting the fleet to run on cleaner fuel, LPG, is a big thing for the shipping industry, an industry that is known for over-ordering of new ships. “Today it’s clear that from a sustainability perspective, investing to upgrade existing vessels is at least as important, since the environmental impact both from the building and recycling of ships is substantial.”

He admits that so far, there is no other company that has opted for retrofitting their ships. However, more than 50% of new builds last year have been ordered with the new technology, so the industry is slowly following suit.

Best on water

Despite its historic milestone as well as excellent financial performance over the last two years, BW LPG has – like everyone else – serious concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic, and particularly its effect on its workforce, as Mr Onarheim affirms.

“From the operational perspective, we are facing a crisis at sea. Travel restrictions have left hundreds of thousands of seafarers stranded, unsure when they will be able to return home. Many are fatigued and weary because their time at sea has been extended for months beyond the maximum stipulated in international conventions.”

To raise the awareness of the sacrifice of seafarers and the issues they face, the company has joined in the call from many shipping companies and urge countries to recognize seafarers as key workers and to provide them with the support, assistance and travel options open to all key workers during the pandemic.

With people being the company’s core asset, Mr Onarheim affirms that at BW LPG, safety is non-negotiable. “Zero Harm has been our vision for many years, and the goal of ensuring that the safety of all employees remains at the forefront of all our shipping operations continues to remain a priority. We have a dedicated team within BW LPG that implements regular initiatives to enforce a strong safety culture in our growing family of seafarers & shore-based staff.”

Inclusion and diversity are also core pillars of business growth and central to the company’s identity, and BW LPG promotes a work environment where employees can perform to their fullest potential. In 2019, approximately 49% of its onshore employees were women and 33% of these held leadership positions.

Going forward, BW LPG will continue to look at ways to innovate towards becoming more sustainable as a company while further enhancing value for its shareholders, says Mr Onarheim. “We are determined to ensure that we continue to be well-positioned for the future – investing in cleaner energy and accelerating market transformation for the better so that market-led changes will act as a force for good on a global scale.”

“We will aim at strengthening our pole position in LPG shipping, delivering best-in-class returns to shareholders through delivering on our vision of “Towards a Better World” and our mission to be best-on-water for all our stakeholders.”

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