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Products and services Primagas, Germany 4/18/2021

Primagas refuel research vessel with LNG

Primagas has been selling LNG in Germany for close to ten years and notably in in 2014 built the first German industrial LNG plant in Saxony-Anhalt. The development of the wider supply and availability of LNG from Primagas has also offered some interesting and successful projects for this more sustainable energy source.

The first of its type for LNG


At the end of 2020, Primagas was awarded the contract to refuel the salvage and research vessel Atair, a significant project as it is a research vessel, the first ship of its kind to be powered by LNG.

This successful contract award was a joint tender submission to BSH (German Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency) from the SHV Energy business units (BUs) of Primagas Germany and PrimaLNG (Antwerp). It a very special project not only for both BUs, but also for the BSH, because the Atair is largest and the most modern ship in the BSH fleet with an overall specification that is designed to be environmentally friendly.


Focus on the environment: the new Atair


BSH accepted the Atair in September 2020 and took it over from Fassmer Werft, a shipbuilding company with a long tradition of designing and constructing one-off custom-built special purpose vessels. Measuring 75 meters long and around 17 metres wide, it  can reach a speed of around 13 knots.


The new vessel replaced the old Atair, which entered service in 1987, with this state-of-the-art ship that meets the highest environmental standards. It is the world's first seagoing government vessel for special tasks with a low-emission liquefied gas propulsion system, and is also particularly quiet.


Tasks and regions of operation


The Atair will be involved in a variety of tasks include sea surveying, wreck search and also carry out marine survey missions focused on the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Northeast Atlantic areas. As a research vessel, the Atair is a traveling scientific laboratory and performs tasks, but not restricted to geology, oceanography as well as the development and testing of technical ship equipment.


LNG propulsion and the advantages for ocean vessels


Although the Atair is the first research vessel to be powered by LNG some 190 ships worldwide are powered by LNG with significant advantages in fuel economy and for the environment.

Compared to a diesel-fuelled ship, an LNG-powered ship reduces CO₂ emissions by around 20%, the emission of sulphur dioxide is reduced by 90%, nitrogen oxides by around 80%, and particulate matter is also virtually non-existent.


The ship has a 130 m³ LNG tank,so it can sail for ten days on LNG propulsion alone. It also has the option of diesel operation (dual fuel), which is possible by using only the highest-quality gas oil with a sulphur content of less than 0.1% is. Three Wärtsila engines drive three generators of 1000-1500 kW each. Two of the engines are designed as gas engines for LNG. The diesel engine effectively serves as a back-up


The underwater noise is minimised and meets the strictest level of underwater radiated noise requirement (DNV SILENT Class Notation - SILENT R). This ensures optimal performance of precision instruments, as well as the acquisition of accurate for reliable scientific research data and protects the marine environment.


First LNG refuelling


For the first time in November 2020, Primagas refuelled the Atair with 37 tons of LNG from two tankers in Bremerhaven. This was followed by second refuelling with the same quantity of LNG in January 2021. The Federal Office is now inviting tenders throughout Europe for a planned framework contract for further refuelling operations, which will involve a volume of around 1,000 tons of LNG per year. Primagas are hopeful that the success enjoyed with Atair will strengthen the submission to win this tender and look forward to comparable significant LNG projects in the future.