Lithuanian LNG cluster is launching new technology projects
The Lithuanian Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) cluster, established a year ago, is successfully directing partnerships built within the framework of a platform to generate innovative solutions that will expand the applicability and facilitate the distribution of LNG. On 30 March, this will take a concrete expression with agreements to be signed in Klaipėda for the design and development of an LNG-powered rail locomotive and the production of the Liquid Intelligent Tank (LIT).
Step towards a promising market niche
Distribution and applications are the key challenges in accelerating the development of an LNG infrastructure in the Baltic Sea region. It is in this context that the members of the LNG cluster have initiated their first joint projects.
The signatories who are entering into the material arrangements will be greeted in Klaipėda by Lithuanian Minister of Transport and Communications, Rokas Masiulis, who took the initiative to set up the Lithuanian LNG cluster when he was working as the Minister of Energy. With the entry of the first international partner, the US automation solutions company Emerson, R. Masiulis has expressed his strong belief that such a platform for business cooperation will provide the impetus to implement specific projects and develop new products in Lithuania.
‘It is good to see that the cluster’s line of business is progressing exactly as we envisioned, and that the partnership is further developing not only at the national level but internationally as well. Lithuania is investing in an infrastructure for LNG distribution; therefore, the efforts of the cluster to facilitate the distribution and applicability of LNG in the transport sector are of particular importance. By taking the initiative in such projects, the cluster members are stepping into market niches that may assist Lithuania in raising its status as the leader in the Baltic Sea region,’ said R. Masiulis.
Unique solution for the transport sector
The LNG-powered rail locomotive project has combined the engineering and technological resources of the cluster members and partners including AB Lietuvos geležinkeliai, Klaipėda Stevedoring Company BEGA, AB Klaipėdos nafta, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University and Klaipėda University.
The LNG-powered locomotive will be used for the logistics of freight wagons and should become a unique flagship for LNG applications in the rail transport sector by opening a window of opportunity for the use of clean fuel. LNG contains no sulphur, nitrogen oxide, and produces lower emissions of CO2. When it burns, practically no solid particles (the main reasons for smog) are produced.
It is presumed that the new solution will also result in lower fuel consumption, and consequently, reduced costs. This assumption is based on evidence from LNG-powered trailers in Poland, where the consumption of fuel by LNG-powered trucks travelling on fixed routes may be up to 40 percent less.
Production to be launched this year
The smart LNG shipping container project initiated by the cluster is targeted at developing better conditions for LNG distribution. A significant impetus in launching the project was provided by an LNG distribution centre built by AB Klaipėdos nafta, the key player in the Lithuanian LNG market. This infrastructure development and the new opportunities it creates for the distribution of LNG dictate the need for high-quality distribution equipment. The smart containers to be produced in Lithuania will be used for LNG storage and fuel transportation. The containers will reach customers in the Baltic region and outside its borders by road, rail and water transport.
The first LNG shipping containers in Lithuania are expected to be available for use at the end of this year. One of the largest engineering industry corporations in Lithuania, Western Shipyard SC, as well as the global technology market giants Emerson (USA) and DNV-GL (Norway), have joined forces in developing the project.
‘We greatly appreciate this opportunity to cooperate with our international partners. The benefits of their involvement in the project are not limited only to the technological aspects. With their global operations, these partners will open new market opportunities for the product and will enhance its position from a marketing point of view. I think that this project will be beneficial to all of the parties involved: our foreign partners also have a great deal to gain from finding an additional field of action,’ said Arnoldas Šileika, the CEO of Western Shipyard SC.
Solid basis of the partnership
Mantas Bartuška, the LNG cluster’s Chairman of the Board and CEO of AB Lietuvos geležinkeliai, emphasised that the cluster has already passed an important test, The conclusion of the agreements proves the necessity of the cluster and provides evidence of its well-targeted activities: ‘Both projects have reached maturity by employing the competences of different partners; and have thus given us reason to be optimistic, both in terms of the competitiveness of the new products as well as in the potential of the cluster itself. The valuable knowledge and high culture of cooperation that we now have available is really something to be proud of and to be used.’
The Lithuanian LNG cluster currently has ten members. It was set up for the purpose of establishing Lithuania as the LNG technology and distribution centre in the Baltic Sea region, as well as ensuring efficient cooperation in the areas of energy, education, science and business.