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OCI and Unibarge partner to develop Europe’s first dual-fuelled green methanol bunker barge

02 Feb 2023

Global producer and distributor of hydrogen products OCI N.V. on Wednesday (1 February) said it has partnered with Unibarge B.V. to develop Europe’s first dual-fuelled methanol propelled bunker capable barge, which will be in service in the Port of Rotterdam. 

The barge will run on renewable and low carbon methanol bunker fuel, as well as conventional biofuel bunkers.

Among its unique features, the barge will also enable OCI to offer a full end-to-end bunker solution with the ability to transport and deliver its OCI HyFuels green methanol to ocean-going vessels. 

The barge is expected to be deployed into inland waterways from the Port of Rotterdam in the second half of 2024.

The retrofit project will be managed by Unibarge, who have selected the technology and equipment partners. OCI will take the barge on a long-term time charter and employ it in its regular trade, as well as using it to offer a full end-to-end bunker solution to larger vessels, delivering OCI Hyfuels green methanol.

Bashir Lebada, CEO of OCI Methanol, said: “This is an important milestone for Europe’s shipping industry and an exciting step towards OCI’s vision of a cleaner future. OCI and Unibarge are one of the first globally to concentrate decarbonization efforts on smaller vessels and create what is currently a unique offer in Europe with this emission-free and dual-use barge, which both runs on and delivers our green methanol.

“The project is part of our efforts to transition vessels across the board, including smaller crafts that operate on inland waterways which often pass through populous areas. We recognize the need to replace current marine fuels with cleaner alternatives such as green methanol, to reduce overall climate impact and improve local air quality.

“Methanol as a marine fuel has been established in the ocean going fleet for close to a decade, whereas the inland fleet is lagging. This innovative project demonstrates the viability of green methanol for the existing inland fleet, providing an option to extend the lifetime of existing assets while decarbonizing our inland waterways. OCI HyFuels has led the development of green methanol applications in vehicle fuels, with up to 200,000 tons per annum being placed into vehicle fuel markets globally. We are now focused on taking those learnings and applying them to the fast-growing methanol bunker market.”

Alexander Wanders, COO of Unibarge, said:  “We are proud to be partnering with OCI and delivering the first methanol propelled barge to market, making it a new milestone in the transition  of the inland waterway industry. Not only will this project support the use of renewable and low carbon methanol, it will also provide a huge opportunity for existing barges to make a significant step by retrofitting existing engines, replacing gasoil with green methanol as the main fuel.”

Nico van Dooren, Director New Business of the Port of Rotterdam, said: “Clean fuels for shipping are vital to reach net-zero emissions and as Europe’s largest bunker port, Rotterdam plays a key role in this transition. Rotterdam was the first port in the world to offer barge-to-ship bunkering of methanol in 2021 and this dual-fueled bunkering barge will be another important milestone on the road to zero-emission shipping.”

OCI is also extending these efforts through its ammonia products. In June 2022, OCI announced the Final Investment Decision for its ammonia import terminal expansion project in the Port of Rotterdam to triple throughput capacity to 1.2 million tonnes by 2023. The terminal is strategically located to facilitate bunkering to ocean-going vessels, and to act as a hub for hydrogen imported in the form of ammonia to meet Europe’s expected future hydrogen deficit.


Photo credit: OCI N.V.
Published: 2 February, 2023

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