American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) have joined hands to build the first LNG-powered drillship.

Both the companies have entered into a joint development project that tackles challenges associated with storing and managing cryogenic LNG, and promote energy efficiency and environmental sustainability in offshore operations.

DSME will support the project through its expertise in developing LNG technology for floating structures, while ABS will contribute its know-how from various gas-fuelled, LNG and re-gasification unit projects.

ABS global Korean technology vice-president Hoseong Lee said: “This project builds on years of collaboration between ABS and DSME to evaluate innovative design concepts and new approaches that serve the needs of our clients and feature enhanced safety and efficiency standards.”

“We are targeting the Gulf of Mexico as a key market for an LNG-fuelled drillship where, given the abundance of affordable shale gas resources in the US, LNG as a marine fuel makes good economic sense.”

“We are targeting the Gulf of Mexico as a key market for an LNG-fuelled drillship. “

DSME has carried out a concept design, followed by a comparison of two LNG storage tank versions and analysis of the fuel gas supply system to be deployed on the drillship.

ABS will review the concept design and basic engineering of the drillship. It will also carry-out the risk assessment of the fuel gas supply system, the tank and machinery spaces alongside their respective access areas and associated configurations.

ABS Energy Development executive vice president Ken Richardson said: “ABS already has taken the critical first step to develop guidance that addresses the first application of LNG technology on US flagged support vessels for Gulf of Mexico operations.”

“An LNG-fuelled drillship is another groundbreaking concept that illustrates how deepwater applications are evolving.”

Vessel owners and operators in North America are switching to LNG in order to achieve substantial operating savings, while complying with the stringent sulphur requirements in the North American emissions control area, according to ABS.