Yara Birkeland fights it out with innovative tankers for Nor-Shipping’s Next Generation Ship Award

The nominations for the new look Nor-Shipping Next Generation Ship Award have been revealed today, with Yara Birkeland, the world’s first fully autonomous ship, battling against an array of innovative tanker concepts from AET, Teekay and Sovcomflot.

The winner, to be announced at Nor-Shipping’s Opening Ceremony in Oslo Town Hall on 3 June, will be the first to receive an accolade that combines two previous awards – the Energy Efficiency Award and the former Next Generation Ship Award – in one coveted prize.

Fiercely competitive
Yara Birkeland, a breakthrough fully electric, zero emissions and autonomous container ship, may have stolen industry headlines around the world, but it faces stiff competition for the Nor-Shipping trophy. Both Teekay’s ‘E-shuttle’ tanker concept and AET’s shuttle vessels utilise LNG and innovative Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Recovery Systems to create highly energy efficient and environmentally friendly fuel mix solutions, while Sovcomflot’s Gagarin Prospect is the world’s first Aframax tanker designed to use LNG as a primary fuel.

It is, notes Nor-Shipping Director Per Martin Tanggaard, a fiercely competitive shortlist.

Defined by innovation
“This new award for Nor-Shipping 2019 has attracted an incredibly high standard of entrants, illustrating the ambition, innovation and drive for greener shipping that is redefining the industry at present,” he comments. “In all some 21 vessels made it through for consideration by our expert judging panel and, in a demonstration of their quality, each of those appeared on at least one of the judges individual shortlists. I think that is a first!

“However, these four bold, responsible and ground-breaking designs elevated themselves to another level. Each one would be a worthy winner in its own right, so it’ll be hugely exciting to see which one manages to claim the trophy and help start Nor-Shipping 2019 in style at our Opening Ceremony. Good luck to all the nominees.”

Expert consideration
The vessels on the shortlist were selected by an international jury of seven industry experts at a meeting in London in April. Each jury member was asked to select six vessels in order of merit, with six points awarded to their most favoured vessel, five points to number two and so on down to one point for the final vessel. All the marks were then aggregated, with the four chosen vessels being those with the highest overall marks.

The entry criteria for ships allows for vessels built or converted from the time of the last NorShipping exhibition in 2017 to vessels planned for delivery in 2024. Yara Birkeland is currently under-construction at Norwegian shipbuilder Vard, with a delivery date of 2020. Gagarin Prospect is already operational, having been delivered in 2018 and now time-chartered to Shell for up to ten years. Both the AET and Teekay series are under construction at Samsung.

Growing excitement
Nor-Shipping 2019, Your Arena for Ocean Solutions, takes place in Oslo and Lillestrøm, Norway, from 04 to 07 June. Alongside the Next Generation Ship Award the leading global event week will also present the Young Entrepreneur Award at its invitation only Opening Ceremony.

In all around 35,000 delegates, from over 75 countries, with close to 1,000 exhibiting companies, are expected to attend Nor-Shipping’s Lillestrøm-based exhibition and diverse programme of activities taking place across the Norwegian capital.

See below for a detailed presentation of the nominees:

Yara Birkeland
Yara Birkeland is the world’s first fully electric, zero emissions and autonomous container ship. The move to all electric operations also extends onto land. Loading and unloading will be done automatically using electric cranes and equipment. The ship will also be equipped with an automatic mooring system. Powered by hydroelectric and a battery energy storage system, Yara Birkeland and the port infrastructure will produce no harmful greenhouse gasses for the entire operational lifecycle.

Under-construction by Norwegian shipbuilder Vard, Yara Birkeland will be one of the first Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) to enter commercial operations. The move to unmanned operations will be phased, giving Yara International and Kongsberg time to test the advanced systems that enable operation without a human at the helm. When delivered from the Yard early in 2020, Yara Birkeland will be a manned vessel. Autonomous functions will gradually be implemented, tested and validated, with the target of performing fully autonomous unmanned operations by 2022.

AET Shuttle tankers
Being built by Samsung and described as exceptionally fuel-efficient, the twin-screw vessels will feature low-pressure two-stroke WinGD main engines and Wartsila DF auxiliaries. In addition to running on LNG, an on-board Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Recovery System will also capture and convert liquid VOCs from oil cargoes for reuse as a supplementary fuel for propulsion and power generation.

This combined VOC and LNG propulsion capability will save an estimated 3,000 tonnes of fuel every year and reduce CO2 emissions significantly. The ships will have two shaft generators driven by the main engines which in combination with a DC Grid system will save a further 1,000 tonnes of fuel annually.

In terms of hull performance, the hull form has been optimised with 2.7% performance improvement from the base model by modifying the hull volume distribution as well as the shape of the skeg, forward and aft hull shape. The hull of the vessels has been designed with superior specification of 30 years fatigue life based on North Atlantic and North Sea trade.

Teekay E-Shuttle tankers
A series of hybrid Suezmax shuttle tankers under construction at Samsung. Teekay’s new “E-Shuttle” tankers will operate on both LNG as the primary fuel, and a mixture of LNG and recovered volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as secondary fuel, with MGO as backup.

VOCs are produced in a gaseous state from evaporation occurring in the oil cargo tanks. This mixture of VOC and LNG as fuel enables the new shuttle tankers to travel from the oil fields on their own waste gas rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. This will reduce both emissions and bunkering requirements considerably. In fact, by reusing those VOCs as a fuel, the annual emissions can be reduced by 42%. But the positive benefits don’t stop there. The new battery hybrid system also has a direct positive impact on the main machinery operation, resulting in fewer running hours and consequently lower maintenance time and costs. Further, safety is enhanced by the batteries assisting in DP mode thus allowing for immediate power when needed.

Gagarin Prospect
Gagarin Prospect is the world’s first Aframax tanker designed to use cleaner-burning LNG as her primary fuel. She was delivered from Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries in July 2018 and is time-chartered to Shell for up to ten years. She is the first of an initial order of six such vessels by Sovcomflot as part of its ‘Green Funnel’ initiative, launched in partnership with Shell to introduce LNG as a primary fuel for large-capacity tankers and, in general, for vessels not tied to fixed routes or set timetables.

With her ice class 1A hull, Gagarin Prospect is designed for year-round export operations from areas with challenging ice conditions. She is equipped with ice radars and spotlights, ensuring full compliance with the recently introduced Polar Code. Her main engines, auxiliaries, and boilers are dual fuel, capable of using LNG. She is fitted with a low-pressure X-DF dual fuel engine, to minimise the emissions of particulate matter. When not utilising LNG fuel, the installation of Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology enables her to comply with the Tier III regulations governing NOx emissions.

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