LNG deployment in the Mediterranean ports and the impact on Human Resources needs of improvement

As highlighted by the White Paper on Transport, alternative fuels are urgently needed to break the over-dependence of European transport on oil. Transport in Europe is 94% dependent on oil, 84% of it being imported, with a bill up to EUR 1 billion per day, and increasing costs to the environment. Research and technological development have led to successful demonstrations of alternative fuel solutions for all transport modes. Market take-up, however, requires additional policy action.

The Directive 2014/94/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22nd October 2014 on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure points out the main important aspects to be taken into consideration in order to solve the problem of oil dependency.

The first issue to be faced by the Member States is the lack of harmonized and developed alternative fuels infrastructure across the Union. It prevents the development of economies of scale on the supply side and Union-wide mobility on the demand side. According to Parliament and Council point of view, new infrastructure networks need to be built up, such as for electricity, natural gas (liquefied natural gas (LNG) and compressed natural gas (CNG)) and, where appropriate, hydrogen. In order to better plan the structural initiatives to be taken, a better knowledge of the different stages of development of each fuel technology and related infrastructures, including the maturity of business models for private investors and the availability and user acceptance of alternative fuels, is necessary.

LNG is the most attractive alternative fuel for vessels and the most credible solution to meet the requirements for decreasing the Sulphur content in marine fuels in the SOx Emission Control Areas which affect half of the ships sailing in European short sea shipping, as provided for by Directive 2012/33/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council. A core network of refueling points for LNG at maritime ports has to be available by 2025.

The Regulation (EU) No 1315/2013 outlining the TEN-T Core Network defines indirectly also the territorial base for the deployment of LNG infrastructures since the corridor covers the main traffic flows. As a matter of fact, according to the “alternative fuels” Directive, in the elaboration of their national frameworks, the Member States ensure the installation of refueling points at least along the existing TEN-T Core Network, within adequate distances taking into account the minimum range of LNG heavy-duty motor vehicles.

Refueling points for LNG include, inter alia, LNG terminals, tanks, mobile containers, bunker vessels and barges. Furthermore, the Directive does not limit the deployment of refueling points along the core network. Even if it outlines that the initial focus has to be maintained on the core network, there are no constraints against the possibility to make available LNG at ports outside the core network in the longer term, in particular those ports that are important for vessels not engaged in transport operations. The decision on the location of the LNG refueling points at ports should be based on a cost-benefit analysis including an examination of the environmental benefits. Applicable safety-related provisions should also be taken into account.

The Member States have two years to submit their national policy frameworks. The Commission will then assess and report on those national policy frameworks in order to ensure coherence at Union level.

The ongoing initiatives of Mediterranean countries

In order to speed up the process, Mediterranean countries are organizing themselves at transnational level collaborating in European projects directly involving national ministries and the key players of the transport sector. The COSTA project (2011-EU-21007-S) was very important for the promotion of LNG among private and public stakeholders. It aimed at developing a global strategy for the promotion of LNG (liquefied natural gas) as marine fuel. It also looked at how LNG could be an efficient and effective solution to the problem of emissions abatement in the Mediterranean, which enters into force on 1 January 2020. Furthermore, it has been the base for further initiatives such as COSTA II East - Poseidon Med. This project (still ongoing), part of TEN-T Priority Project 21 (Motorways of the Sea) is a direct continuation of the COSTA project. COSTA II focuses on the eastern Mediterranean region/sea with five Member States (Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia) in order to prepare a detailed infrastructure development plan promoting the adoption of LNG as marine fuel for shipping operations. It will design a LNG transport, distribution, and supply (including bunkering) network and infrastructure and define the framework for a well-functioning and sustainable relative market (vessels) for its demand. It has the following four objectives, namely to:

  • Study the establishment of a comprehensive LNG network (sources and destinations) in the East Mediterranean area (including the Adriatic);
  • Investigate all the necessary activities to develop a sustainable market for LNG as marine fuel in the aforementioned Member States;
  • Revive shipping in the area and increase fleet competitiveness, efficiency, and sustainability;
  • Serve and satisfy EU/TEN-T objectives with respect to emission reduction, increased efficiency and competitiveness of EU shipping, in order to ensure and strengthen the accessibility to all areas of the Comprehensive Network, diversify EU energy supply sources, create new employment opportunities, and promote the mobility of people and goods in a safe and socially responsible way.

Further activities have been planned and are waiting for the results of the last (and first) call for proposals of CEF (Connecting Europe Facility) Programme. Among them, two initiatives have a particular importance for the Mediterranean area: Poseidon MEDII and GAIN.

Regulatory framework on LNG and impact on Human Resources

Especially in the just mentioned two new initiatives, the development of a port regulating framework on LNG has become a key point. Reducing the uncertainties on the practical use of LNG (e.g. procedures “permitted”, appropriate locations for building refueling stations, agreed rules for the vessels that can circulate) is crucial for the effective deployment of the alternative fuel.

The main objectives to be achieved are:

  • To develop National frameworks as requested by the Directive 2014/94/EU on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure regarding ports and maritime transport;
  • To ensure consistency among the different National frameworks to ensure uniformity approach along TEN-T core networks;
  • To ensure consistency with third countries regulations meeting their needs and development prospective;
  • To share a common framework for vessels authorization at European level;
  • To define standards criteria, tools and guidelines for training in order to allow safe procedures.

This last point is one of the main important since the introduction of innovations always impact on human resources capital. As far LNG is concerned, a fully deployment will re-define the whole logistics supply chain. Some projects has already paved the way to the development of LNG bunkering facilities and full-scale implementation of LNG stations in relation to HR addressing the specific training needs coming from LNG adoption.

One good example is TRAINMOS II which aims at establishing the contents of a modular MSc/Post Graduate Diploma/Certificate/Continuing professional development (CPD) programme and starting the accreditation process. The project targets university graduates, but also professionals working in different sectors of the multimodal transport chain. Being focused on the relation between transport improvements and training needs, the project is taking into consideration LNG as a major trend. The expected results will be useful for the elaboration of the national frameworks and, through EUPORTRAItS project, will be taken into consideration in the ongoing European Social Dialogue.


CFLI – Intermodal Logistics Training Consortium

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