New technology enables shuttle tankers to capture VOC emissions and use them as fuel. The world’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) dual-fuel e-shuttle tanker is now in operation.
Shuttle tankers are the primary alternative to pipelines for transporting offshore oil to onshore refineries. About half of North Sea oil is transported to the UK and Norway on board shuttle tankers, and the vessels are also popular in South America.
Today, after decades of operation, almost 40 per cent of shuttle tankers servicing the North Sea are due to be replaced.
The necessity of satisfying environmental regulations on the Norwegian continental shelf has given rise to invention. One of these is Altera Infrastructure’s new hybrid shuttle tankers, which capture harmful emissions and uses them as fuel.
When loading crude oil from an offshore platform onto a shuttle tanker, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are released – on average 100 metric tons per journey. Altera Infrastructure’s ground-breaking tankers capture these VOCs, mix them with liquefied natural gas (LNG), and use the mix to power their engines.
The first of the e-shuttle tankers, Aurora Spirit, was delivered in January 2021. The vessel has a length of 177m, beam of 46m and draft of 16.5m. Its gross tonnage is 90 000t and it can carry 137 500m³ of liquid cargo.
The new tanker is equipped with battery packs for flexible power distribution and prevention of blackouts. Meanwhile, an onboard ship performance monitoring system ensures smooth operation.
Altera Infrastructure’s LNG dual-fuel e-shuttle tankers are expected to reduce annual CO₂ emissions by over 40 per cent, NOₓ emissions by over 80 per cent and SOₓ emissions by nearly 100 per cent, compared to traditional shuttle tankers.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from shipping by 50 per cent by 2050. Achieving this target will require more vessels that run on green fuels and electric batteries.
Aurora Spirit was delivered to Altera Infrastructure in January 2021. Three more e-shuttle tankers are under construction.