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MarTech LNG helps South Baltic region reposition itself as liquefied natural gas hub

  • 23 November 2016

The EU-funded MarTech LNG project has developed cross-border supply chains for liquefied natural gas (LNG), securing millions in new investments to reposition the South Baltic region as a global LNG hub, helping the the shipbuilding industries of Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Poland and Lithuania adapt to EU environmental rules.

The MarTech LNG project triggered a chain reaction of technological and business innovation activities that solidified ongoing efforts towards building a smart specialisation of the South Baltic maritime industry.

Aleksandra Reduch, Managing Authority

EU law requires that from 1 January 2015, EU countries had to ensure that ships in the Baltic, the North Sea and the English Channel use fuels with a sulphur content of no more than 0.10 %. Higher sulphur content is still possible, but only if the appropriate exhaust cleaning systems are in place.

The shipping industry in those regions had to quickly adapt. Although the regulation recognised liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a suitable alternative fuel, to use it ships had to be retrofitted and ports required a new infrastructure. 

Where others may have seen a major market disruption, the MarTech LNG project saw a unique business opportunity. Bringing together eight institutions from Poland, Lithuania, Denmark, Germany and Sweden, the project developed cross-border LNG supply chains, leveraged joint ventures, organised LNG technology training, and secured EUR 46 million in LNG business investments. 

A golden opportunity 

Looking to take a step towards energy independence, Poland and Lithuania decided to invest in LNG terminals. However, because the region lacked the competences needed for LNG terminal construction and operation, there was a risk that these services would be outsourced away from the region – a move that would affect the shipbuilding and bunkering sectors in the region. 

To ensure the region didn’t miss a golden opportunity to reinvent itself as a LNG smart hub capable of competing on the global market, the MarTech LNG project took action. Its aim was to equip regional LNG businesses with the technological know-how and expertise needed to build and maintain an LNG infrastructure, implement a comprehensive LNG supply chain and secure the business investments needed to develop smart LNG hubs across the region.   

During the course of the project, MarTech LNG trained 200 experts in using the latest technology. It also ensured the project’s involvement in the leading LNG tradeshow. Here project organisers successfully secured the involvement of such multinational companies as GE, Shell and Emerson. Not only did this give South Baltic businesses access to globally-leading LNG knowhow, it laid the ground work for the necessary value chain for developing small-scale liquefaction, LNG container storage, liquid biogas production and terminal reloading. 

The spark that started a fire

The MarTech LNG project provided the crucial spark needed to unleash a range of investments in the LNG shipbuilding and bunkering sectors. As a result, today the region boasts a cross-border cluster of smart ports, shipbuilding yards, ship owners, technology firms and bunkering providers. In this sense, MarTech LNG serves as a case study of how a cross-border business support strategy can lead to tangible business results, foster the development of a regional niche market and boost economic growth and job creation.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “MarTech LNG” is EUR 1 352 886, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 1 088 532 through the “South Baltic” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.