A fishing boat leaves the harbour at Munambam on the outskirts of Kochi in Kerala, India. File photo/Reuters
India is set to trial the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the fishing sector in an unusual move ahead of new marine fuel standards that start next year.
The South Asian country’s Kerala Development and Innovation Strategic Council (K-DISC), which is a think-tank and advisory body set up by the government of the southern state of Kerala, issued an expression of interest (EOI) this week for a pilot project to use LNG to fuel a fishing boat.
It is looking to retrofit an existing marine diesel engine system in a fishing boat currently in Kochi to enable it to operate on both LNG and diesel in what is known as a dual fuel system.
Fishing boats are typically fuelled by diesel, but a new regulation by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) that limits the sulphur content of fuel used in ships by 2020 could push governments to explore the use of cleaner fuels.
LNG is not widely used in the fishing industry due to limited bunkering infrastructure and high costs.
The project will also involve the installation of an LNG fuel storage tank and other associated equipment and pipelines by modifying the boat hull, according to the EOI.
K-DISC has asked for the work to be done in 18 weeks and is requesting proposals by Sept.7, with commercial bids to be submitted by late October.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi ventured into the sea off Kerala coasts along with fishermen on a country boat on Wednesday and returned with little catch but huge political mileage for his party ahead of elections.
The government has decided to raise excise duty on petrol and diesel significantly, by upto Rs8 per litre, to mobilise additional resources that would be required to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
India’s imports of crude oil have stalled in recent months, but the malaise in the country’s energy sector is deeper, with both coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG) also soft.
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The pilot and a 14-year-old passenger were seriously injured and remain in hospital in a serious condition.