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Methanol Institute: ‘Plausible’ business opportunity, lower barriers to entry for methanol bunkering first movers

Discussions around the need to develop methanol bunkering operations are taking place at numerous ports ahead of estimated demand of above 7M mtpa by 2030, says Chris Chatterton of Methanol Institute.




stena bunker

Credible business opportunities are available for ‘first movers’ of methanol bunkering due to expected deliveries of methanol-fuelled vessels from 2024, states the Chief Operating Officer at Methanol Institute.

Front view of methanol bunkering pump room with vapour recovery tank Stena Germanica
Front view of methanol bunkering pump room with vapour recovery tank - Stena Germanica

‘With a number of methanol dual-fuel vessels expected to come into service within the next 12 to 16 months, we are expecting physical bunkering opportunities of up to an estimated one million metric tonnes of methanol per annum,” Chris Chatterton told bunkering publication Manifold Times.

“However, currently, approved commercial facilities for methanol bunkering are limited at any of the major ports for any of these newbuilds to refuel.”

According to Chatterton, the lack of methanol bunkering capacity was partly due to methanol dual-fuel vessel owners not having announced where they would choose to safely bunker methanol and what specification of methanol (conventional, lower carbon, or carbon neutral).

The group is still deciding on where to source the material, how to ensure its efficient transportation into the declared port as a bunker fuel, and at a price which supports the business case for switching fuels – allowing them to remain competitive while reducing emissions.

Conventional methanol as a product, based on natural gas, which significantly reduces PM, SOx and NOx, in addition to lowering CO2 by up to 15%, is meanwhile widely available at over 100 international ports due to its legacy as a petrochemical feedstock.

“Sheer availability of methanol is extremely high. Unfortunately, ‘formally approved’ physical delivery mechanisms of methanol as a bunker fuel, with the exception of Rotterdam and Gothenburg ports, is presently very limited, but expected to change very soon,” he explained.

For example, the Stena Germannica which has been bunkered shore-to-ship since about 2015 without incident very recently began STS bunkering under operations by Methanex, the Port of Gothenburg and tanker operator E&S.

Many methanol, dual-fuel product carriers, such as those of Waterfront Shipping, have been involved with ship-to-ship transfers of methanol as a fuel for some time – since 2016; bunkering methanol in Ulsan, New Plymouth, Geismar, Trinidad, Punta Arenas, Houston, Rotterdam, Onsan and Taicang, to name a few. Proman has also begun bunkering their dual-fuel product carriers in a similar fashion.

“The expected demand is already there, based on the number of dual-fuel methanol vessels on order, so it’s really a situation of bunkering agents and vessel operators coming together to collaborate on how to secure and store methanol bunkers with an appropriate specification and safely transfer them,” he stated.

“The opportunity is out there.”

Methanol Institute, which serves as the trade association for the global methanol industry, estimates low barriers of entry for a bunkering firm to start methanol marine refuelling operations, compared to other alternative fuels.

Rear view of methanol bunkering pump room complete with low flash point fit for purpose vapour and flame detection technology as well as circuit breakers Stena Germanica
Rear view of methanol bunkering pump room complete with low flash point, “fit for purpose” vapour and flame detection technology as well as circuit breakers - Stena Germanica

“Estimates to convert an 8,000 to 10,000 dwt bunkering vessel for methanol bunkering have been pegged at less than EUR 100,000 (USD 108,000),” highlighted Chatterton.

“It’s not as much of a financial commitment to get involved, at least in comparison to other, alternative fuels. Safe handling of methanol is well understood, as a liquid at ambient temperature, with formal training programs readily available.

“Most existing bunkering firms can compete in this market with some training, best practice transfer and minimal investment. After which, coordinating with the local port authority to allow for safe methanol bunkering and then following locally approved guidelines to ensure incident-free bunkering services is critical.”

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Photo credit: Gothenburg Port Authority
Published: 1 February, 2023

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GCMD concludes its final biofuel blend supply chain trial with Hapag-Lloyd

bp provided the B30 biofuel blend to the “TIHAMA”, a 19,870 TEU container vessel operated by Hapag-Lloyd in final trial; marks the end of a series of trials initiated in July 2022.





GCMD concludes its final biofuel blend supply chain trial with Hapag-Lloyd

The Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) on Thursday (18 July) said it has successfully completed its final supply chain trial for biofuel blended with very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO). 

This marks the end of a series of trials initiated in July 2022 as part of a larger pilot to develop a framework to provide quality, quantity and GHG abatement assurances for drop-in fuels.

In this final trial, bp provided the B30 biofuel blend to the TIHAMA, a 19,870 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) container vessel operated by Hapag-Lloyd.

The biofuel component used is certified to the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) standard – a multistakeholder certification scheme for biobased materials. The biofuel component comprised neat Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME) produced from food waste.

Authentix, a tracer solutions provider, supplied and dosed the FAME with an organic-based tracer at the storage terminal outside the Netherlands. The dosed FAME was then transported to the Port of Rotterdam for blending with VLSFO to achieve a B30 blend, before the blend was bunkered onboard the TIHAMA.

Similar to previous trials, GCMD engaged fuel testing company Veritas Petroleum Services (VPS) to witness the operations at all stages – from biofuel cargo transfer to bunkering. VPS also collected and conducted extensive laboratory tests on samples of the biofuel and biofuel blend collected at pre-determined points along the supply chain to assess quality per Standards EN 14214 and ISO 8217.

With well-to-wake emissions of 13.74 gCO2e/MJ, the neat FAME presented a 85.4% emissions reduction compared to the emissions of the fossil marine fuel. The reduced emissions complies with the MEPC 80, which requires a minimum emissions reduction of 65% in order for biofuels to be classified as sustainable.

GCMD and Hapag-Lloyd determined that consumption of the 4,500 MT B30 blend of FAME and VLSFO resulted in 27.9% emissions reduction compared to sailing on VLSFO.

A newly developed tracer deployed with this supply chain

GCMD collaborated with Authentix to develop and deploy a new organic-based tracer to authenticate the origin and verify the amount of FAME present in the blend. The proprietary tracer blended homogeneously with FAME and was detected at expected concentrations at all sampling points along the supply chain.

This trial marks the first deployment of this tracer in a marine fuel supply chain. Previously, similar tracers were used to authenticate and quantify biofuels in road transport and LPG supply chains.

Development of a comprehensive biofuels assurance framework underway

With the completion of this trial, GCMD has deployed a diverse range of tracer technologies, including synthetic DNA and element-based tracers, in addition to the organic-based tracer used in this trial. The trials have also included the development of a chemical fingerprinting methodology and the evaluation of lock-and-seal and automatic identification systems (AIS) as additional solutions to ensure the integrity of the biofuels supply chain.

Learnings on tracer limitations and benefits will be incorporated into a framework that recommends appropriate use to ensure consistent and robust performance. This effort will complement existing ISCC by providing additional supply chain assurance through physical traceability.

The insights from these trials will be shared in a series of reports covering issues, such as traceability, biofuel degradation, supply chain optimisation and abatement costs. These findings will culminate in a comprehensive assurance framework to provide guidance on biofuels use, slated for release in the fourth quarter of 2024.


Photo credit: Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation
Published: 19 July 2024

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MPA, ITOCHU and partners sign MoU on ammonia-fuelled bulk carriers study

As a government agency, MPA,will review and provide their views to the designs of the ammonia-fuelled ships to ensure their safe operations, says ClassNK.





RESIZED venti views

Classification society ClassNK on Thursday (18 July) said it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ITOCHU Corporation, Nihon Shipyard Co., Ltd., and Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) regarding a joint study for the design and safety specifications of ammonia-fuelled ships which are under development by ITOCHU and partners.

“The discussion for a specification of ammonia-fuelled ships with a governmental body related to their operation is essential for a social implementation of ammonia-fuelled ships,” ClassNK said. 

“As one of parties of the MoU, MPA, a government agency overseeing the world’s busiest bunkering hub, will review and provide their views to the designs of the ammonia-fuelled ships to ensure their safe operations.”

The MoU is based on the premise that 200,000 deadweight ton class bulk carriers will be built by Nihon Shipyard with an ammonia dual-fuelled engine.

“The necessary clarifications of the specification for the ammonia-fueled ship to carry out ammonia bunkering in Singapore will be conducted among parties of this MoU, for the commercialisation of ammonia-fuelled ships,” ClassNK added.


Photo credit: Venti Views on Unsplash
Published: 19 July 2024

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“K” Line to use biofuel on three Gram Car Carriers-chartered vessels in Singapore

Biofuel will be supplied to the sister vessels “Viking Ocean”, “Viking Diamond” and “Viking Coral” while bunkering in Singapore, says Gram Car Carriers.





“K” Line to use biofuel on three Gram Car Carriers-chartered vessels in Singapore

Norwegian transportation firm Gram Car Carriers (GCC) on Thursday (18 July) said Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (“K” LINE) will use biofuel on three vessels chartered from GCC from July onwards. 

“The biofuel will be supplied to the sister vessels Viking Ocean, Viking Diamond and Viking Coral while bunkering in Singapore, an Asian hub for marine biofuels,” GCC said on its social media. 

“The use of biofuel is a key environmental initiative to reduce emissions across the entire value chain (well-to-exhaust) and an effective way of transitioning to low-carbon marine fuels amid globally tightening environmental regulations.”

“We support the green mobility shift. This means that GCC commit to supporting the transition of both vehicles and their logistic chain towards a zero-emission future in close cooperation with leading customers such as K-Line,” said Georg A. Whist, CEO of GCC.


Photo credit: Gram Car Carriers
Published: 19 July 2024

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