Totem Ocean picks Wärtsilä technology for major LNG ship conversion

Totem Ocean has announced that Wärtsilä will supply main engines, generators and integrated LNG storage and fuel gas handling systems (LNGPac) for one of the largest LNG conversions ever undertaken in North America.

John Parrott, president of Totem Ocean, cited Wärtsilä's proven technology as a deciding factor in selecting the company. Parrott emphasized that "maintaining reliable, on time service is critical to Totem Ocean's customers as well as the economy and citizens of Alaska."

The contract was signed in the fourth quarter of 2013, and executives from both companies met on February 17 in Tacoma, Washington, to announce the project.

"Today marks the beginning of a long relationship between our two companies," said Parrott. "Our relationship will outlast this project to extend over the 35-plus year life of our vessels."

Totem Ocean's fleet of two Orca Class roll-on/roll-off cargo ships -- M.V. Midnight Sun and M.V. North Star -- transport about one-third of all the goods required by the inhabitants of Alaska. Cargo includes essential items such as food, household goods, vehicles, construction materials and military supply support.

As a result of the conversion, the Totem Ocean vessels will set new standards for environmental responsibility by reducing sulphur oxide (SOx) emission by 100%; particulate matter (PM) by 91%; nitrogen oxide (NOx) by 90%; and carbon dioxide (CO2) by 35%.

"It is an unprecedentedly exciting time to be in the maritime industry," said Björn Rosengren, CEO of Wärtsilä. "Economic constraints and the need to comply with environmental legislation have combined to accelerate the switch to LNG fuel.

"Wärtsilä is uniquely positioned to enable this transition since we have been a leader in developing the appropriate technology for nearly 30 years," he added. "We look forward to working with TOTE on converting the Midnight Sun and North Star to LNG so that they can realize the benefits that LNG as a marine fuel can provide."

Project Specs
  • Each of the vessels will be equipped with four 12-cylinder Wärtsilä 50DF dual-fuel engines and generator sets 
  • Wärtsilä 50DF engines have been designed to give high output combined with fuel flexibility, low emissions, efficiency and reliability
  • Engines can be run either on natural gas, light fuel oil or heavy fuel oil
  • Wärtsilä also provides the vessels with two 1100 m³ LNG fuel storage tanks and the associated automaton and fuel gas handling systems (LNGPac(TM))
  • In addition to the equipment, Wärtsilä is taking responsibility for the design, engineering and integration of the system, and project and site management for its scope of supply

"We are seeing a transformative change in the marine industry with the switch from oil based product to natural gas," said Quentin Stewart, sales manager for Wärtsilä's ship power business in North America.

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