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Joint study examines ecological impact of ammonia bunker fuel spills during bunkering and collisions

EDF, LR and Ricardo research found that estuaries, mangroves and wetlands are particularly sensitive to potential ammonia fuel spills compared to the polar regions and the deep sea.

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A joint study released by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Lloyd’s Register (LR) and Ricardo PLC, examines the potential marine environmental impacts of ammonia spills during its use as a shipping fuel, according to LR on Monday (21 November). 

The study, which used extensive modelling due to the scarcity of real-world data, focuses specifically on the impacts of large ammonia bunker fuel spill scenarios on marine habitats.

Potential effects on aquatic environments and associated ecological receptors were assessed in scenarios if a spill were to occur during bunkering, or in the case of a ship’s collision and sinking. In addition, possible mitigation measures and specific spill management practices for these scenarios were modelled and studied.

“The shipping industry must make a rapid energy transition to address the climate emergency. But it is also clear that we must proceed with caution. We owe it to future generations to ensure we are championing true climate solutions that will not negatively impact our rivers, our oceans or our health,” said Marie Hubatova, Director of Global Shipping for EDF's Global Transport team.

The study examined potential ammonia fuel spills during bunkering and collision scenarios, under a variety of conditions, including time of day, temperature, humidity and solar radiation. The outputs were tested across eight habitats (rivers, estuaries, wetlands, coastal waters, coral reefs, mangroves, polar regions and the deep sea) using multiple ecological receptors (bacteria, plankton, macrophytes, invertebrates, fish, birds, reptiles, and marine mammals).

The study found that estuaries, mangroves and wetlands are particularly sensitive to potential ammonia fuel spills compared to the polar regions and the deep sea. Within these habitats, it is typically fish which are most sensitive to an ammonia spill, with birds and mammals to a lesser degree.

Lauren Dawson, Senior Consultant, Water and Environment Practice, Ricardo, said: “Examining the impact of ammonia is a challenge because of the vast conditions a ship might face while at sea or even when bunkered. Critical factors to consider include the various ship and storage types, the underlying principles which determine the fate of ammonia in the environment, and the diversity of aquatic habitats and species that could be affected.”

“Ultimately, what we found is that ammonia is more threatening to fish species, and particularly to ecosystems with less saline water and higher temperatures. It is therefore important to study the impact of ammonia carefully for particular regions where these habitats intersect with major shipping channels and ports, such as the Strait of Malacca. The findings of the report provide an excellent step forward to delivering a baseline upon which future assessments can be refined.”

The results were then compared to previously studied habitat and species sensitivity to conventional oil-based fuels. Overall, an ammonia spill has a relatively smaller dispersion distance and lower persistence within the environment when compared to heavy fuel oil (HFO) and marine gas oil (MGO).

Existing reports show that oil-based fuels have higher impacts on invertebrates and birds, compared with ammonia. Ammonia has a medium impact on all other ecological receptors, except bacteria, whereas oil-based fuels have medium impacts on plankton, fish, macrophytes, reptiles and marine mammals (see the Table summarising the environmental impact level in page 5 of our summary report).

While the maritime industry has prior experience with ammonia transported in gas carriers and used as refrigerant, the introduction of ammonia as a shipping fuel creates new challenges related to safe bunkering, storage, supply and consumption for different ship types. The potential toxicity of ammonia cannot be ignored; without mitigation measures and solid spill management practices, an ammonia fuel spill could have negative impacts on aquatic environments. Therefore, a robust regulatory framework must be developed for ammonia to be a viable, low carbon alternative for shipping.

“There are many questions around the use of ammonia as a shipping fuel. Studies like this support the industry’s understanding of the environmental impacts as well as the operational and safety challenges. Greater clarity about the risks posed to marine ecosystems will allow industry stakeholders to make better informed decisions on the multiple transition pathways under consideration,” said Andy Franks, Senior Risk Specialist, LR Maritime Decarbonisation Hub.

Note: The full article can be found here while the full report Ammonia at sea: studying the potential impact of ammonia as a shipping fuel on marine ecosystems can be downloaded here

 

Photo credit: Lloyd’s Register
Published: 22 November, 2022

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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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