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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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Methanol

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding receives orders for Japan’s first methanol-fuelled RoRo cargo ship duo

Two ships will be built at the Enoura Plant of MHI’s Shimonoseki Shipyard & Machinery Works in Yamaguchi Prefecture, with scheduled completion and delivery by the end of fiscal 2027.

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Mitsubishi Shipbuilding receives orders for Japan's first methanol-fuelled RoRo cargo ship duo

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., a part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group, on Wednesday (19 June) said it has received orders from Toyofuji Shipping and Fukuju Shipping for Japan's first methanol-fueled roll-on/roll-off (RORO) cargo ships. 

The two ships will be built at the Enoura Plant of MHI's Shimonoseki Shipyard & Machinery Works in Yamaguchi Prefecture, with scheduled completion and delivery by the end of fiscal 2027.

The ships will be approximately 169.9 meters in overall length and 30.2 meters in breadth, with 15,750 gross tonnage, and loading capacity for around 2,300 passenger vehicles.

A windscreen at the bow and a vertical stem are used to reduce propulsion resistance, while fuel efficiency is improved by employing MHI's proprietary energy-saving system technology combing high-efficiency propellers and high-performance rudders with reduced resistance. 

The main engine is a high-performance dual-fuel engine that can use both methanol and A heavy fuel oil, reducing CO2 emissions by more than 10% compared to ships with the same hull and powered by fuel oil, contributing to a reduced environmental impact. 

In the future, the use of green methanol(2) may lead to further reduction in CO2 emissions, including throughout the lifecycle of the fuel. Methanol-fueled RORO ships have already entered into service as ocean-going vessels around the world, but this is the first construction of coastal vessels for service in Japan.

In addition, the significant increase in vehicle loading capacity and transport capacity per voyage compared to conventional vessels will provide greater leeway in the ship allocation schedule, securing more holiday and rest time for the crew, thereby contributing to working style reforms.

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding, to address the growing needs from the modal shift in marine transport against the backdrop of CO2 reductions in land transportation, labor shortages, and working style reforms, will continue to work with its business partners to provide solutions for a range of societal issues by building ferries and RORO vessels with excellent fuel efficiency and environmental performance that contribute to stable navigation for customers.

 

Photo credit: Mitsubishi Shipbuilding
Published: 20 June, 2024

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Maersk and Nike to christen methanol-fuelled boxship at Port of Los Angeles in August

Powered by methanol for its maiden voyage and capable of carrying more than 16,000 containers, the vessel will get its new name at a private ceremony at Port of Los Angeles Outer Harbor.

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A.P. Moller – Maersk (Maersk) on Wednesday (19 June) said it will be christening one of the world’s first methanol-enabled vessels when it arrives in Los Angeles this August.

The firm invited the public to go aboard the container ship in Los Angeles.

Powered by methanol for its maiden voyage and capable of carrying more than 16,000 containers (TEU), the vessel will get its new name at a private ceremony at the Port of Los Angeles Outer Harbor on Tuesday, August 27. 

Maersk’s CEO Vincent Clerc will be on hand, alongside special guest speakers from Nike and leading state and local officials. Nike is a partner in the name-giving event.

“Nike is committed to protecting the future of sport and we leverage science-based targets to guide us through our Move to Zero journey,” said Venkatesh Alagirisamy, Nike Chief Supply Chain Officer.

“Operating one of the largest supply chains in the world, we have a responsibility to advance the innovation and use of more sustainable methods that get us closer to zero carbon and zero waste. By working with suppliers like Maersk, who share our commitment to sustainability, we are scaling our use of biofuels in ocean transportation, our main first-mile delivery channel.”

“This event is not only an opportunity to celebrate a remarkable engineering achievement, but the chance to highlight that we can navigate towards more sustainable supply chains if we work together,” said Charles van der Steene, Regional President for Maersk North America.

On Wednesday, August 28, Maersk invites the public to tour the 350-meter-long vessel, which will be sailing from Asia. Visitors will be able to see the Sailors’ living quarters and even stand on the bridge from where the captain controls the vessel. Public tours will require visitors register for a free ticket via an online registration site that will be activated and announced in August.

This is the fifth container vessel in Maersk’s fleet that can sail on green methanol bunker fuel.

 

Photo credit: A.P. Moller – Maersk
Published: 20 June, 2024

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Methanol

Methanol Institute: Innovative developments and strategic collaborations (Week 24, 10-16 June 2024)

This week highlights notable advancements in methanol fuel technology, strategic partnerships, and industry analyses, underscoring the maritime sector’s ongoing commitment to sustainable fuel solutions.

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The Methanol Institute, provides an exclusive weekly commentary on developments related to the adoption of methanol as a bunker fuel, including significant related events recorded during the week, for the readers of bunkering publication Manifold Times:

The past week saw further additions to the potential capacity for production of methanol with announcement of a new facility using waste biomass to create biomethanol for the maritime market. Elsewhere, plans for additional port storage was announced at key ports in China. Finally, analysis by Ship & bunker shows that almost half of the bunker capacity represented by the newbuilding orderbook will be powered by alternative fuels.

Methanol marine fuel related developments for Week 24 of 2024:

Norway to Develop Bio-e-Methanol Production Facility

Date: June 10, 2024

Key Points: Glocal Green and Norwegian Hydrogen are partnering to build a bio-e-methanol plant in Øyer, Gudbrandsdalen, Norway. The facility will produce 10,000 metric tonnes of bio-e-methanol annually, using hydrogen and CO2 from bio-waste and wood waste. The project aims to support the maritime sector's transition to green fuels, leveraging local renewable resources to create sustainable methanol, thus contributing to Norway's environmental goals and the broader global push for cleaner energy solutions.

Green Marine Fuels and Vopak Collaborate on Green Methanol Storage Facilities

Date: June 12, 2024

Key Points: Green Marine Fuels Trading and Vopak have announced a strategic partnership to develop green methanol storage facilities at key ports, including Shanghai Caojing and Tianjin Lingang in China. This collaboration aims to expand the infrastructure needed to support the growing demand for green methanol as a sustainable marine fuel. The facilities will enhance the supply chain for green methanol, aligning with global efforts to decarbonize the shipping industry and promote the use of alternative fuels.

Global Orderbook Analysis: Conventional vs. Alternative Bunker Fuel Demand

Date: June 13, 2024

Key Points: An analysis of the global newbuilding orderbook, conducted by Ship and Bunker, reveals that of a total 33.8 million tonnes (mt) of bunker demand, alternative fuelled ships represent 46% or 15.6mt of bunker demand.

Methanol accounts for 3.2 mt (10%) compared to 10.5mt (31%) for LNG, a figure skewed by the vast orderbook for LNG carriers which partly use their cargo as fuel.

The data from DNV Alternative Fuels Insight indicates a significant shift towards alternative fuels, driven by containerships and LNG carriers, reflecting the maritime industry's continuing focus on reducing carbon emissions and adopting greener fuel options.

 

Photo credit: Methanol Institute
Published: 20 June, 2024

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