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Argus Media: Maersk leapfrogs LNG to net zero marine fuels

25 Feb 2021

Stefka Wechsler of the global energy and commodity price reporting agency Argus Media on Wednesday (24 February) published a summary behind Maersk’s decision to invest directly in net zero fuels like biodiesel instead of opting for a ‘transition’ bunker fuel like LNG:

Danish shipping firm Maersk will not be using transitional marine fuels, such as LNG, to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions but instead will leapfrog directly to net zero fuels: biodiesel, bio-methanol, e-methanol, lignin fuels and green ammonia.

“Our research shows that net zero technologies are available,” the company said. Maersk is “very concerned with levels of methane [a type of greenhouse gas] emissions” from LNG and the risk of tying investments on marginal CO2 reductions rather than transformation to real net zero-emissions.

The company deems lignin fuels, which are derived from plant material, as potentially the most price-competitive net zero fuel with the lowest price estimate, almost on a par with conventional marine fuels. Bio-methanol and e-ethanol are already in use as a marine fuel. Biodiesel can be used as drop-in fuel in fuel oil.

But a key limitation for using biodiesel, bio-methanol and lignin, are producing it at scale. Biodiesel prices are affected by high demand from competing industries. Future prices of green ammonia and e-methanol depend on the cost of renewable electricity and maturity of electrolyser technology.

Maersk estimates that decarbonizing marine fuels will lead to doubling the price of bunkers, which in turn would lead to about a 20pc increase in container shipping rates.

In 2020, Maersk burned 10.37mn t of fuel oil for bunkering, down from 11.17mn t in 2019 and 12.02mn t in 2018. The company attributed the drop to improved vessel efficiency and also fewer vessels in operation in the second and third quarters of 2020. The company also burned 32,000t of biofuels. Maersk reduced its CO2 emissions by 46.3pc by 2020 or 33.90mn t from the 2008 baseline. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) requires that vessels reduce CO2 emissions by 40pc by 2030 from 2008, placing Maersk well ahead of IMO’s regulation.

Photo credit and source:
Argus Media
Published: 25 February, 2021

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