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Singapore: Industry expert clarifies rising misconception of methanol bunker fuel carbon intensity

Several industry stakeholders have expressed difficulties in meeting the stated carbon intensity of 90 gCO2e / MJ outlined by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.




RESIZED AND ADJUSTED Chris Chatterton (1)

A misconception by parties keen on supplying methanol as a bunker fuel at Singapore port is rising and needs to be addressed, observed methanol industry expert Chris Chatterton.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on December 2023 issued the Expression of Interest (EOI) for the supply of methanol as a marine bunker fuel in the port of Singapore document to the bunkering sector.

In it stated: “The Participant shall propose methanol product(s) with a carbon intensity (CI) not greater than 90 gCO2e / MJ (well-to-wake) for bunkering in Singapore”.

Several industry stakeholders have expressed to Chatterton difficulties in meeting the stated CI of 90 gCO2e / MJ due to conventional grey methanol produced using current modern methods having a CI of between 90 to 95 gCO2e / MJ, or even higher in some cases, on a life cycle assessment basis.

Further, the parties were concerned of significant higher costs when considering the premium between fuel oil (HFO and LSFO) and more expensive green [carbon neutral] methanol.

“Guys, don’t sweat the premium! When we talk about green methanol in premiums, we are referring to 100% green methanol here and nobody is going to burn this product in commercial operations due to costs unless it is economically viable under prevailing policy or they are able to transfer these costs to cargo owners,” he exclaimed.

“Questions persist on how to meet the CI specification and some players are wondering if the methanol can be blended or needs to come direct unchanged from the manufacturing complex. This needs to be addressed but is technically very simple to do.”

Chatterton recommends the bunkering industry to utilise the Mass Balance Approach – a concept familiar with the chemical industry – which traces the flow of materials through a supply chain as a compliant method to lower the specific CI content of methanol for use as marine fuel (combusted).

Source: International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC)

Source: International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC)

“Not all methanol production plants are created equal and when you purchase methanol you are going to get a CI certificate stating the carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent per Megajoule (MJ) from well-to-plant gate basis,” he informed.

“And just by blending the certified grade with a portion of green carbon neutral methanol you can effectively lower the CI value of conventional conventional methanol to meet the 90 gCO2e / MJ specification required by MPA.

“Singapore is an ideal hub to receive and trade varying specifications of certified grey, blue and green methanol from not only China, Middle East, but from any corner of the world, efficiently and cost-effectively."

Availability of green carbon neutral methanol from China

Globally, “pilot” production projects are expected to produce over 6 million metric tonnes (mt) of green methanol in 2025, with up to 4 million mt coming from China, stated Chatterton who added a large portion of China’s green methanol will be derived from wind power, which is arguably the lowest cost wind resource with the highest capacity factor globally.

“Northeast China has a very high onshore wind capacity factor at above 95% which is amongst the best in the world and enough to provide baseload power rivalling utility scale gas fired powerplants,” he explained.

“China is also a world leader in renewable power production, whether solar or wind by a factor of two and has more than twice the renewable power capacity than USA.

“Further, China is the largest producer of renewable power equipment of any kind in the world and by far also the cheapest because they produce at scale; whether it’s wind towers, rotor blades, turbines, or solar panels - China is the outright leader in production capacity and has been so for many years.”

Most of China’s pilot scale projects set to produce green methanol are already in the final investment phase. To date, pilot projects in operation could only produce between 100,000 to 200,000 mt of green methanol per annum, and low volumes have resulted in higher prices for the green material.

However, once scaled up, these pilot projects will be able to produce 2-3 times more product to eventually lead to a softening of market pricing for green methanol, noted Chatterton.

Future prices and procurement of green methanol

“Therefore, there is no need to be too worried about the current methanol premium over HFO. There are certainly organisations able to provide methanol at more flexible terms, but these term contracts typically are for a longer duration,” he continued.

“A similar development took place for shipping’s transition to IMO 2020, when all majors instructed bunker suppliers needed to enter into long term contracts for at least a year to secure 0.50% sulphur limit VLSFO.”

Moving forward, Chatterton believes the combined factors of increased availability of green methanol, more efficient renewable power and power equipment cost structures, resulting in economies of scale will mean more affordable methanol from 2025 onwards – particularly from China.

“The green methanol producers in China are mainly pursuing ISCC EU certification which means it is compliant for use in Europe. With FuelEU kicking in, it will be even more ideal for shipowners to switch to using lower carbon and carbon neutral methanol as a sustainable marine fuel,” he ends.

Related: MPA receives 50 submissions for EOI to supply methanol bunker fuel in Singapore
Related: MPA issues EOI seeking for methanol bunker fuel suppliers in Singapore


Published: 20 May 2024

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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.





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.






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 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.





Methanol Institute logo

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 150,000 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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