German shipping company Wessels Reederei has unveiled plans to convert one of its containerships to a liquefied natural gas (LNG)-capable propulsion system, marking the first of many anticipated projects.

As part of the project, the company has awarded a contract to MAN Diesel & Turbo to retrofit the four-stroke 8L48/60B main engine of its container ship Wes Amelie to dual-fuel operation.

MAN Diesel & Turbo-MAN PrimeServ Four-Stroke head of upgrades and retrofits Dr Thomas Spindler said: “We are very excited about the signing of this contract and view its potential for broader adoption within the maritime sector as significant.

“We enjoy an excellent cooperation with Wessels and commend their willingness to adopt our dual-fuel technology.”

The ship was selected among the company’s current fleet of 43 vessels based on scalability of the engineering services and the development costs, shrinking the costs for follow-up projects.

The new LNG-propelled Wes Amelie is expected to minimise emissions of sulphur oxide nitrogen oxide, and carbon dioxide by up to 99%, 90% and 20% respectively.

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By GlobalData

The engine retrofit is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Adoption of LNG as fuel for complete operational usage is planned for early December 2016.

Wessels Reederei GM Christian Hoepfner said: “With each rebuild, we are creating an increasing demand for LNG as a clean fuel.

“Only in this way, and not only through appeals, can the development of an LNG infrastructure continue to gain momentum.”

“Only in this way, and not only through appeals, can the development of an LNG infrastructure continue to gain momentum.”

The company has earlier stated that the project will promote the demand for LNG as a fuel within the maritime industry.

Wes Amelie operates in the North and Baltic Seas and has 23 sister ships, 16 of them structurally identical enabling easier implementation of follow-up projects.

The project is funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) under the federal programme, Mobility and Fuel Strategy.

Image: The contract being signed at the Europort exhibition for maritime technology. Photo: MAN Diesel & Turbo.