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DNV Industry Insights: Methanol as bunker fuel heads for the mainstream in shipping

There are currently 122 ports with methanol storage facilities worldwide, and various ports – such as Gothenburg – have issued methanol bunkering rules or are preparing to do so, according to DNV.

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Classification society DNV on Thursday (20 April) released an industry insights article on important criteria for the shipping industry to consider when using methanol as an alternative bunker fuel including methanol bunkering infrastructure and green methanol production.

The following are excerpts of the insights:

A growing order book for methanol-fuelled ships shows that the shipping industry sees methanol as a promising alternative fuel. Relying on decades of expertise in the field, DNV explains important criteria to consider.

Methanol has attracted considerable attention as an alternative ship fuel since 2021. The adoption of the IMO interim guidelines for ships using methyl or ethyl alcohol as fuel (MSC.1/Circ.1621) has been an enabler for shipowners ordering methanol-fuelled ships. Together with the IMO’s IGF Code for ships using low-flashpoint fuels and DNV’s mandatory class rules for methanol-powered ships, specifically the LFL FUELLED and Methanol Ready class notations, a comprehensive regulatory framework for the use of methanol as ship fuel is now available to DNV customers.

Unique expertise to support the uptake of methanol

Lindanger, the world’s first dual-fuel methanol-fuelled tanker, was built in 2016 to DNV class. Today, with 18 of the current global methanol tanker fleet of 24 vessels in the DNV class, DNV is in a unique position to support the uptake of methanol technology by the shipping industry. “Our certification is considered the gold standard by flag administrations, especially around the North Sea,” says Øyvind Skåra, Principal Engineer in Safety & Systems at DNV Korea. “Apart from methanol-fuelled ships, our expertise extends to bunker vessels and methanol production.” Working hand in hand, various DNV business areas provide a full range of non-class-related advisory services covering the entire methanol value chain.

Demonstrating what can be achieved

Proman, the world’s second-largest producer of methanol, and the shipping company Stena Bulk formed their joint venture Proman Stena Bulk to benefit from synergies between their companies in building up a fleet of modern, sustainable MR chemical tankers. “Together with Stena, a pioneer in methanol-fuelled ship operation, we are in a great position to demonstrate to the market what can be achieved with methanol propulsion,” says Peter Schild, Managing Director Sustainability at Proman. The joint venture’s current newbuild programme comprises six state-of-the-art dual-fuel MR tankers, all built to DNV class with three owned by the joint venture and three owned by Proman. Four of the vessels have been delivered already. “Through multiple optimizations, these vessels have achieved a world-leading EEDI for this ship type, which is seven per cent better than any other existing MR newbuild,” says Jacob Norrby, Head of Newbuilds and Projects at Stena Teknik. 

“The reason Proman and Stena Bulk decided to go for methanol-fuelled ships is to be prepared for the transformation we have to undergo on the way to net zero,” says Erik Hånell, CEO of Stena Bulk. “We know that we will be able to use this investment through to 2050 and beyond.” The plan is to blend in increasing amounts of blue and, eventually, green methanol to remain compliant with the IMO trajectory towards zero carbon. 

Safety and environmental considerations for methanol

“Methanol is neither a ‘climate’ gas nor an environmental hazard. It mixes well with water and becomes harmless quickly because it is biodegradable,” explains Skåra. “But because of the toxicity of the vapours escaping during bunkering, gas hazard zones must be designated on board – a point to consider on passenger ships.” Methanol vapours are heavier than air so they sink to lower-lying areas, he adds.  

Methanol combustion requires adding about five per cent of MGO as a pilot fuel. On certain engine types, water can be injected into the combustion chamber to lower the NOx emissions. When retrofitting a methanol fuel system, existing fuel tanks or even ballast water tanks may be used for methanol after applying a specific internal coating, provided the required access points are available. 

Methanol engine technology is proven and not especially complex, Skåra points out. “We know how to handle and use methanol as fuel, so it’s just about developing engines for various ship types.” The leading engine manufacturers plan to have more methanol-ready engines and retrofitting kits available soon, he adds.

A growing order book of newbuilds and retrofits

The order book for methanol-fuelled ships keeps growing, including for containerships, bulk carriers, tankers and even cruise and passenger vessels, with the first deliveries expected in 2024. “The demand is very high – owners want to be ready for this fuel,” says Skåra. “Orders for conversions of existing engines are likewise on the rise.”  

Smaller cargo and offshore vessels which don’t have much space on board stand to benefit especially from the relative simplicity of methanol technology, says Chryssakis. For example, Van Oord has ordered a new methanol-fuelled wind farm installation vessel which will also feature advanced emission-control technology.

Bunkering infrastructure

There are currently 122 ports with methanol storage facilities worldwide, and various ports – such as Gothenburg – have issued methanol bunkering rules or are preparing to do so. “In Norway, where we have a lively methanol industry, ships can bunker methanol from tank trucks,” says Skåra. “The long-term solution will probably be bunker vessels because of their simplicity and flexibility.” Proman Stena Bulk have successfully carried out ship-to-ship, berth-to-ship and truck-to-ship methanol bunkering operations, says Proman’s Peter Schild.

T2 Ind 471 Stena Pro Patria bunkering in Rotterdam tcm71 242545
Proman Stena Bulk have successfully carried out ship-to-ship, berth-to-ship and truck-to-ship methanol bunkering operations

Meanwhile, a new vision has emerged in the shipping industry: establishing “green shipping corridors” between specific ports where zero-emission fuels and technologies can be piloted. “We are actively involved in the discussions around establishing such collaborative platforms,” says Schild. “The key to realizing this concept is a clear regulatory framework, which has yet to be established.”

Green methanol: production ramp-up is needed

“Green methanol is not available in significant quantities today,” says Chryssakis. “Many companies are willing to invest in production but want to see the demand first.” Fortunately, he points out, there is enough time to build up the production infrastructure. “I am sure that limited volumes will be offered before long, but establishing the required production capacity will take time.” Proman is currently co-building a production facility for green methanol in Canada, and similar plans exist for Finland. “Building up a global methanol bunkering infrastructure is not a major challenge,” says Schild. “Blue or green methanol can be blended in eventually, provided we have international fuel specifications.” 

Note: The full DNV Industry Insights article on methanol can be found here

Photo credit: DNV
Published: 24 April, 2023

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Methanol

VPS conducts assessment on first SIMOPS methanol bunkering op in Singapore

Firm was appointed by OCI Methanol Europe to conduct a quantity and quality assessment of a methanol bunker fuel delivery to “Eco Maestro” in Singapore.

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VPS conducts assessment on first SIMOPS methanol bunkering op in Singapore

Marine fuels testing company VPS on Tuesday (28 May) said it was appointed by OCI Methanol Europe, part of the OCI Global Group, to conduct a quantity and quality assessment of a methanol fuel delivery to Eco Maestro in Singapore.

Captain Rahul Choudhuri, President Strategic Partnerships, VPS, said VPS survey experts Rafael Theseira and Muhd Nazmi Abdul Rahim were at hand during the methanol bunkering to ensure the 300 metric tonnes of methanol transfer was carried out smoothly, having been involved in the first methanol bunkering a year ago. 

Manifold Times recently reported X-Press Feeders, Global Energy Trading Pte Ltd (GET), and PSA Singapore (PSA) successfully completing the first simultaneous methanol bunkering and cargo operation (SIMOPS) in Singapore.

A X-Press Feeder container vessel, Eco Maestro, on its maiden voyage from Asia to Europe was successfully refuelled with close to 300 mt of bio-methanol by GET, a MPA licensed bunker supplier, using MT KARA

The ISCC-certified bio-methanol used for the SIMOPS was produced by green methanol producer OCI Global and supplied via GET, a ISCC-certified supplier.

Captain Choudhuri said the role of the marine, petroleum or bunker surveyor has evolved over the years in shipping and maritime affairs, but the principles have not - and that is to provide independent assessment of the quality and quantity of the product transfer. 

“This may seem obvious but this quality and quantity control is crucial to avoid commercial discrepancies, shortages or fraud,” he said.

“Safety training is critical and we have been on top of this having completed the required MPA fire-fighting course and the IBIA Methanol training course. We will work more with the Singapore Maritime Academy for trainings in future,” he added.

In August last year, Singapore-headquartered independent common carrier X-Press Feeders launched its first ever dual-fuel vessel Eco Maestro in China.

Manifold Times previously reported VPS stating it was the first company to complete a methanol bunker quantity survey (BQS) operation in Singapore on 27 July last year.

VPS was appointed by Maersk and Hong Lam Marine Pte Ltd, to undertake the very first bunker quantity survey (BQS) of a methanol fuel delivery, supplied by Hong Lam to the Maersk vessel on its maiden voyage to Europe. 

Related: First SIMOPS methanol bunkering operation completed in Singapore
Related: VPS completes quantity survey on Singapore’s first methanol bunkering op
Related: Singapore bunkering sector enters milestone with first methanol marine refuelling op
Related: X-Press Feeders launches its first methanol dual-fuel vessel “Eco Maestro” in China

 

Photo credit: VPS
Published: 29 May 2024

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LNG Bunkering

Gasum and Equinor ink continuation of long-term LNG bunkering agreement

Agreement builds on the success of the previous contract Gasum has had with Equinor; Gasum’s bunker vessels “Coralius”, “Kairos” and “Coral Energy” will be used for the bunkering operations.

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Gasum and Equinor ink continuation of long-term LNG bunkering agreement

Nordic liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunker supplier Gasum on Tuesday (28 May) said it signed a long-term contract with Norway-based global energy company Equinor whereby Gasum continues to supply LNG to Equinor’s dual-fuel chartered fleet of vessels. 

The agreement builds on the success of the previous contract Gasum has had with Equinor. Gasum’s bunker vessels Coralius, Kairos and Coral Energy will be used for the bunkering operations.

The agreement also includes additional support services such as cooling down and gassing up, which has also been a part of Gasum’s previous collaboration with Equinor. 

Gasum has organised three separate LNG cool down operations for Equinor in Skagen so far this year.

Both Gasum and Equinor have committed to sustainability goals to enable a cleaner energy future. Equinor’s ambition is to become a net-zero emissions energy company by 2050.

Using LNG in maritime transport means complete removal of sulfur oxides (SOx) and particles, and reduction of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions of up to 85 percent as well as a reduction in CO2 emissions by at least 20%. LNG is interchangeable with liquefied biogas (LBG/bio-LNG), which reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 90% compared to conventional fuel such as marine gasoil (MGO).

With LNG and bio-LNG the maritime industry can reduce emissions already today, instead of waiting for future solutions. Gasum’s strategic goal is to bring yearly seven terawatt hours (7 TWh) of renewable gas to market by 2027. Achieving this goal would mean combined carbon dioxide reduction of 1.8 million tons per year for Gasum’s customers.

Related: Equinor Energy AS extends LNG bunkering agreement with Gasum
Related: Gasum expands LNG bunkering business to ARA region through partnership with Equinor

 

Photo credit: Gasum
Published: 29 May 2024

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Methanol

Consortium inks MoU for facility in Egypt to produce green methanol bunker fuel

AD Ports Group, Transmar and Orascom Construction will develop a green methanol storage and export facility, which will provide bunkering solutions for mainliners who have ordered green methanol powered vessels.

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Consortium inks MoU for facility in Egypt to produce green methanol bunker fuel

AD Ports Group, a facilitator of global trade, logistics and industry on Tuesday (28 May) said it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with container shipping line and terminal operator Transmar and global engineering and construction contractor Orascom Construction for the development of a green methanol storage and export facility. 

AD Ports Group said the facility will aim to supply low-carbon fuel for maritime transport, presenting an opportunity to establish clean alternative energy storage solutions globally.

Green methanol is a synthetic fuel produced renewably and without polluting emissions, and can be produced from green hydrogen. This chemical compound can be used as a low-carbon liquid fuel and is a promising alternative to fossil fuels in areas where decarbonisation is a major challenge.  

Aside from the maritime industry, green methanol can help decarbonise other hard-to-abate industries, including chemical and plastics. 

“The addition of a facility in this area will provide bunkering solutions for those mainliners who have ordered green methanol powered vessels and is aligned with AD Ports Group’s overall decarbonisation strategy and expansion into clean energy liquid bulk storage,” the Group added.

Captain Ammar Mubarak Al Shaiba, CEO – Maritime & Shipping Cluster, AD Ports Group, said: "By signing this MoU with Orascom Construction who have vast international experience in bulk liquid terminals for Methanol storage, and Transmar, who have decades of expertise in this region and within terminal operations, AD Ports Group and its subsidiaries are taking a significant step towards the sustainable future of energy.”

“This initiative not only aligns with the UAE's decarbonisation goals but also accelerates the energy transition in shipping, positioning us at the forefront of the green hydrogen revolution and enabling us to contribute to global environmental stewardship and economic diversification."

 

Photo credit: AD Ports Group
Published: 29 May 2024

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