New modern technology LNG vessels have exceeded expectations

11 June 2024

As an important step on UPM’s continuous journey towards a future beyond fossils, seven new vessels entered the fleet for maritime operations in Europe in 2022. The vessels are equipped with dual fuel engines, meaning that they can run on liquified natural gas (LNG) and traditional marine gas oil. When fuelled with LNG, the vessels were expected to emit 25 per cent less CO2. So far, they have lived up to the expectations and even exceeded them.

“After a year of operations with all seven vessels, the experience has been great,” says Lauri Rikala, Director, Global Break Bulk Shipping, UPM Logistics.

Four of the vessels are Lift-On/Lift-Off (LoLo) vessels made by Wijnne Barends for transporting, timber, pulp and other forest products raw materials. The three remaining, built by Bore, are RoLo vessels for flexible handling and transporting of UPM’s paper and plywood products. “Both vessel types perform how they were designed to perform,” Rikala notes. “Their cargo capacity is as expected or slightly better than we had anticipated, and fuel consumption is in line with our expectation.”

He is particularly pleased with the vessels’ cutting-edge technology which makes it possible to monitor emissions, reduce fuel consumption as well as to ensure a versatile use of vessels for various cargo purposes.

“One might think that the vessels carry only the cargo they are designed for, but these vessels were designed to fit to purpose flexibly. For example, Bore Wind has carried full cargo of UPM’s paper products from Rauma to Rostock and sailed from there to Flushing in the Netherlands to carry a full cargo of pulp back to Rauma,” Rikala describes. “Another example is Bore Way who carried out our paper and plywood products to Amsterdam, Santander and Ferrol and on its way to France carried our external customer’s steel. With the ability to maximise the cargo loads, we can reduce considerably both the CO2 emissions and costs.”

Reducing all types of emissions
The first LNG-fuelled vessel started operating for UPM in the second quarter of 2022 and the rest were taken into use gradually during the following half year. Statistics comparing the emissions from UPM’s time charter fleet in European short sea trade in 2020 with 2023 show that the LNG vessels have reduced greenhouse gas emissions per transported tonne by over 26 per cent every quarter.

Hanna Eklund, Senior Manager, Safety, Security and Sustainability, UPM Logistics, highlights that the calculations show the so-called well-to-wheel emissions, meaning the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions from the fuel sourcing phase (the "well") to the emissions generated during its operation (the "wheel" phase).

“Some have raised concerns about the methane slip, so it is important to note that when we say that the emission reductions are above 26 per cent, that is after the methane slip has been taken into account,” Eklund explains, adding that all seven vessels are still not operating at full capacity, so their emission performance might improve.

Not only do LNG ships reduce the amount of CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere. LNG also emits much less nitrogen gas (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particles compared to traditional diesel, resulting in an over 95% reduction in sulfur and particles emissions.

“This has an important positive impact on the air quality of harbour areas,” Eklund notes.

Lower logistics emissions benefit customers
In addition to reducing emissions in its own operations, UPM is committed to reducing emissions from the most significant sources in its value chain by 30 per cent by 2030, against 2018 levels. And when UPM cuts transport emissions, the customers' total carbon footprint is reduced as well.

"The introduction of new LNG vessels is an essential part of UPM's Logistics' contribution to UPM Sourcing’s -30 by 30 programme," Rikala tells.

UPM Logistics’ sustainability work does not end with the LNG vessels’ current 26 per cent emission reductions but will continue at many arenas. “We are now looking into alternative fuels for our new LNG ships. Perhaps e-LNG or Bio-LNG will be available on an industrial scale in the near future,” speculates Rikala, who closely follows the development of different types of low-emission fuels.