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Q&A by Argus Media: Antwerp port plans 10mn t/yr NH3 imports by 2030

Argus spoke with the programme manager for hydrogen at the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, Maxime Peeters, on capacity build-out, ammonia cracking, hydrogen transportation and bunkering solutions.

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Infrastructure build-out will be essential in the development of low-carbon ammonia value chains to meet Europe's clean energy import ambitions. Ahead of the Argus Clean Ammonia Conference Europe in Antwerp this month, Argus spoke with the programme manager for hydrogen at the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, Maxime Peeters. Capacity build-out, ammonia cracking, hydrogen transportation and bunkering solutions were discussed. Edited highlights follow.

REPowerEU has set a target of 20mn t/yr of green hydrogen consumption by 2030, one fifth of which should be covered by ammonia imports. What are the main developments taking place at the Port of Antwerp to facilitate this?

We are the biggest petrochemical cluster in Europe, so hydrogen and hydrogen derivatives already play quite an important role inside the port. There is existing infrastructure for ammonia, methanol and LNG.

We have existing import capacity, users, infrastructure and transit towards Germany for instance through barge, rail and pipeline. Today we have one large ammonia terminal in the port operated by BASF. Ammonia is both imported and produced on site and then used in Antwerp or transited towards Germany. That's how it works today.

Of course if we look at the 10mn t/yr hydrogen import ambition of Europe, there will be a much bigger need of ammonia imports, as ammonia is one of the major import molecules. We will need much more ammonia capacity, as well as methanol capacity.

We did a study with a coalition of several industrial partners — the hydrogen import coalition — looking at the Belgian and German markets and what needs to be done to make Belgium an import hub.

Germany will have an import demand by 2030 of around 90TWh/yr. We have the ambition to import a third of that — 30TWh. And for Belgium, we will need 10-15TWh of imports by 2030. That's a total of 45TWh/yr, or the equivalent of 1.2mn-1.5mn t hydrogen. That's roughly 6-10mn t/yr ammonia, or over 600,000m³ of open access ammonia capacity.

We've spoken to all of our tank-storage providers in the port, and in aggregate we have plans in place to meet 600,000m³ of additional open access ammonia capacity by 2030. We now need to move forward and reach financial investment decisions for several terminals. Most of them have an ambition to be on line by 2027, because the demand is there by 2030 with European targets. A lot of projects are already working on their permitting and they are having very detailed negotiations with capacity bookers, so we are moving in a very positive direction.

How has the current cost environment with increased inflation, energy and borrowing costs affected planned developments?

We talk to a lot of production projects globally and we do see that there is an increase of costs.

Borrowing money is more expensive and with inflation generally we have higher capital expenditure. The hydrogen import coalition did a recalculation of projected project costs from 3-4 years ago, and we found that costs of wind turbines, electrolysers and other included expenses meant that the total cost has escalated by 33pc. It is also harder to find EPC contractors willing to bear the risk. But we don't see any big roadblocks. Of course, there will be some filtering of those less mature and robust projects but that's normal in a maturing market.

What are the ports plans for ammonia cracking?

Most of the potential ammonia terminals want to build an ammonia cracker by 2027.

We'll have our first mid-scale cracker in Antwerp already in 2024 by Air Liquide, with scale-up planned for 2027. Fluxys has an ammonia terminal, VTTI plans to build one and we have SeaTank, Vesta and LBC who are all building tanks. Vopak has acquired new land in the port and plans to retrofit an old refinery site for new energy capacity, including ammonia. So a lot of market initiative is taking place.

Belgium's federal cabinet approved €250mn funding for a hydrogen transport network in July this year. What plans are in place for this?

The hydrogen import coalition estimates around 50pc of ammonia imports will be cracked for the hydrogen market, and 50pc will be used for ammonia uses in Belgium and Germany.

On the cracking level we need to distribute the hydrogen. The Belgian federal hydrogen strategy is supporting this with funds and with the appointment of a hydrogen network operator this year. The strategy has set forth that we will have an open access hydrogen backbone in Antwerp by 2026. Subsidies will only be applicable if the infrastructure is built by 2026, so 2026 is locked for a hydrogen network in Antwerp. Connection to Germany is planned for 2028, with extensions to the Netherlands and France by 2030.

The port of Antwerp is the fifth largest bunkering hub in the world. The port is already offering hydrogen bunkering options on a small scale. Do you have plans to facilitate any ammonia bunkering solutions?

Yes. We have a multi-fuel strategy. It sets forward that by 2025 we will make sure shipping lines that come here have the option to bunker the fuels that they want.

LNG is already possible at the port. We are working hard on both methanol and ammonia. We are working with bunkering companies, shipping lines, fuel suppliers and regulators to make sure that its possible in our port. We already get a lot of questions from shipping lines actually on the availability of ammonia and methanol.

How do you see market uptake of blue versus green ammonia?

Our position is that the long-term solution is green. But in the beginning, there won't be enough green. We will need blue in a transition period.

We have existing technology for carbon capture and storage which can drastically reduce the carbon emitted. It's a stepping stone towards green. In terms of the currently known status of the European targets, we only see a role for green. The blue market is more related to ETS emissions and reducing these.

By Lizzy Lancaster

Photo credit and source: Argus Media 
Published: 23 November, 2023

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Wind-assisted

Singapore: EPS orders its first wind-assisted propulsion system for tanker

Firm signed a contract for its first ever wind-assisted propulsion system, partnering with bound4blue to install three 22-metre eSAILs® onboard “Pacific Sentinel”.

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Singapore: EPS orders its first wind-assisted propulsion system for tanker

Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS) on Thursday (22 February) said it signed a contract for its first ever wind-assisted propulsion system, partnering with bound4blue to install three 22-metre eSAILs® onboard the Pacific Sentinel

The turnkey ‘suction sail’ technology, which drags air across an aerodynamic surface to generate exceptional propulsive efficiency, will be fitted later this year, helping the 183-metre, 50,000 DWT oil and chemical tanker reduce overall energy consumption by approximately 10%, depending on vessel routing.

Suitable for both newbuilds and retrofit projects, the system delivers energy efficiency and cost savings for a broad range of vessels, regardless of their size and age.

Singapore: EPS orders its first wind-assisted propulsion system for tanker

José Miguel Bermudez, CEO and co-founder at bound4blue, said: “Signing an agreement with an industry player of the scale and reputation of EPS not only highlights the growing recognition of wind-assisted propulsion as a vital solution for maximising both environmental and commercial benefits, but also underscores the confidence industry leaders have in our proven technology.”

“It’s exciting to secure our first contract in Singapore, particularly with EPS, a company known for both its business success and its environmental commitment.”

“We see the company as a role model for shipping in that respect. As such this is a milestone development, one that we hope will pave the way for future installations across EPS’ fleet, further solidifying our presence in the region.”

Cyril Ducau, Chief Executive Officer at EPS, said: “EPS is committed to exploring and implementing innovative solutions that improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions across our fleet.” 

“Over the past six years, our investments in projects including dual fuel vessels, carbon capture, biofuels, voyage optimisation technology and more have allowed us to reduce our emissions intensity by 30% and achieve an Annual Efficiency Ratio (AER) of 3.6 CO2g/dwt-mile in 2023, outperforming our emission intensity targets ahead of schedule. The addition of the bound4blue groundbreaking wind assisted propulsion will enhance our efforts on this path to decarbonise.”

“With this project, we are confident that the emission reductions gained through eSAILs® on Pacific Sentinel will help us better evaluate the GHG reduction potential of wind assisted propulsion on our fleet in the long run.”

Pacific Sentinel will achieve a ‘wind assisted’ notation from class society ABS once the eSAILs® are installed. 

 

Photo credit: Eastern Pacific Shipping
Published: 23 February, 2024

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LNG Bunkering

Galveston LNG Bunker Port joins SEA-LNG coalition

SEA-LNG said move will further enhance its LNG supply infrastructure expertise and global reach, while giving GLBP access to the latest LNG pathway research and networking opportunities.

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Galveston LNG Bunker Port joins SEA-LNG coalition

Galveston LNG Bunker Port (GLBP), a joint-venture between Seapath Group, one of the maritime subsidiaries of the Libra Group, and Pilot LNG, LLC (Pilot), a Houston-based clean energy solutions company, has joined SEA-LNG, according to the latter on Wednesday (21 February). 

SEA-LNG said the move will further enhance its LNG supply infrastructure expertise and global reach, while giving GLBP access to the latest LNG pathway research and networking opportunities.

GLBP was announced in September 2023 and will develop, construct and operate the US Gulf Coast’s first dedicated facility supporting the fuelling of LNG-powered vessels, expected to be operational late-2026.

The shore-based LNG liquefaction facility will be located on Shoal Point in Texas City, part of the greater Houston-Galveston port complex, one of the busiest ports in the USA. This is a strategic location for cruise ship LNG bunkering in US waters, as well as for international ship-to-ship bunkering and cool-down services. GLBP will offer cost-effective turn-key LNG supply solutions to meet growing demand for the cleaner fuel in the USA and Gulf of Mexico.

Jonathan Cook, Pilot CEO, said: “With an initial investment of approximately $180 million, our LNG bunkering facility will supply a vital global and U.S. trade corridor with cleaner marine fuel. We recognise that SEA-LNG is a leading partner and a key piece of the LNG bunkering sector, and will give us access to insights and expertise across the entire LNG supply chain.

“LNG supports environmental goals and human health by offering ship operators immediate reductions in CO2 emissions and virtually eliminating harmful local emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter.”

President of Seapath, Joshua Lubarsky, said: “We are very pleased to be supporting the decarbonization of the maritime industry through strategic, and much needed, investments into the supply of alternative fuels.  We are also happy to be a part of SEA-LNG which has done a wonderful job in advocating for advancements in technology in this vital sector.”

Chairman of SEA-LNG Peter Keller, said: “We’re proud to welcome another leading LNG supplier to the coalition and are looking forward to a mutually beneficial relationship. With every investment in supply infrastructure in the US and worldwide, the LNG pathway’s head start increases. Global availability, alongside bio-LNG and e-LNG development, makes LNG the practical and realistic route to maritime decarbonisation.

“All alternative fuels exist on a pathway from grey, fossil-based fuels to green, bio or renewable fuels. Green fuels represent a scarce resource and many have scalability issues, so we must start our net-zero journey today with grey fuels. LNG is the only grey fuel that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, well-to-wake, so you need less green fuel than alternatives to improve emissions performance.”

 

Photo credit: SEA-LNG
Published: 23 February, 2024

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Biofuel

VARO and Orim Energy to supply bio bunker fuels in ARA region

VARO will source, produce and blend various waste and advanced bio feedstocks to high quality bunker fuel specs; Orim will source fuel and gas oils for blending and deliver final biofuel blends to vessels.

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VARO and Orim Energy to supply bio bunker fuels in ARA region

VARO Energy (VARO) on Wednesday (21 February) said it is partnering with Orim Energy (Orim) to provide shipping customers in the Port of Rotterdam – and wider Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) region - with biofuels. 

The agreement supports the decarbonisation of maritime transportation and inland shipping in Northern Europe. It also contributes to the wider targets set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to reduce the total annual GHG emissions from shipping by at least 20% by 2030 and at least 70% by 2050, compared with 2008 levels.

Current demand for Fuel Oil in ARA , Europe’s largest bunkering hub, is approximately 14 million tonnes per year. Supported by new EU regulations, the market for B30, a blend of 70% Fuel Oil and 30% biofuels, is expected to grow rapidly to the end of the decade. As a result of this joint initiative, VARO and Orim will be well positioned to meet this increased demand and support the decarbonisation plans of their shipping customers.

VARO’s biofuels trading capabilities and growing biofuel manufacturing asset base will complement Orim’s extensive distribution, storage and bunkering capabilities in ARA. Under the agreement, VARO will source, produce and blend various waste and advanced bio feedstocks to high quality bunker specifications. Orim will source the fuel and gas oils for blending and deliver the final biofuel blends to customers’ vessels.

VARO has a long track record of providing biofuels for maritime logistics. Since 2018, the company has supplied the Port of Rotterdam with HVO100 (100% Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil “HVO”) for use with the Port’s service fleet. In 2023 VARO signed an agreement with Höegh Autoliners to supply the company with 100% advanced biofuels for its shipping fleet.

The partnership is aligned with VARO’s strategy to become the partner of choice for customers in the energy transition by providing them with the low-carbon energy solutions they need to decarbonise.

Dev Sanyal, CEO of VARO, said: “Meeting rising demand for blended biofuels is critical to achieving the EU and IMO’s decarbonisation targets for shipping. Our experience in biofuels, combined with Orim’s logistics and bunkering operations, will help meet this demand at Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port facility. I am delighted to be entering into a strategic partnership with Orim and to further build on VARO’s long-established presence in Rotterdam. This is another step in our journey to enable the decarbonisation of the maritime sector.

Edwin Coppens, Managing Director of Orim, said: “Upcoming EU and IMO regulations drive the need to scale up with biofuels and ensure quality assurance going forward. Partnering with VARO allows us to do just that, using each other’s strengths to optimize our blending expertise and network. We will benefit from VARO’s extensive experience with biofuels, which includes joint testing with leading ship engine suppliers. Together, we can increase our sourcing and supply capabilities, extending our reach and further strengthening our position in the ARA region.”

 

Photo credit: VARO Energy
Published: 23 February, 2024

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