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Wartsila: Methanol as marine fuel – is it the solution you are looking for?

Publishes comprehensive Insight article to help ship owners and operators navigate the advantages and issues of using the product as a marine fuel.




NYK methanol bunkering at Rotterdam port on 21 July 2021

Technology group Wärtsilä on Monday (20 February) published the Insight article “Methanol as marine fuel – is it the solution you are looking for?” to help ship owners and operators navigate the advantages and issues of using the product as a marine fuel. An excerpt of the article is as follows:

What is methanol?

Methanol (methyl alcohol, CH3OH or MeOH) is a biodegradable wood alcohol used to make everything from plastics to paints and pharmaceuticals. Although it is toxic and highly flammable, it dissolves in water and biodegrades quickly. Methanol has been used in industrial applications for over 100 years, but it’s now also showing great promise as a clean and sustainable future fuel for maritime applications.

What types of methanol are there?

Broadly speaking, methanol can be categorised into fossil-based methanol and renewable methanol. Fossil-based methanol is produced from coal or natural gas. Renewable methanol can be made from things like biomass or captured CO2 combined with green hydrogen.

What colour is methanol?

  • Methanol is a colourless liquid, but colour names are used to show what it’s made from:
  • Green methanol is made from biomass or captured CO2 and green hydrogen
  • Blue methanol is made using blue hydrogen in combination with carbon capture technology
  • Grey methanol is produced using natural gas
  • Brown methanol is produced using coal.

Green methanol is the most environmentally sustainable. Blue methanol still significantly reduces well-to-tank CO2 emissions compared to fossil fuels like diesel. One of the biggest challenges for maritime decarbonisation is that most methanol today is either grey or brown. All types of methanol could lead to a tank-to-wake CO2 reduction of about 7% compared to diesel. However, if we take the well-to-wake approach (from production to utilisation), the CO2 impact of grey and brown methanol is worse than that of diesel. This is why green and blue methanol are the only real alternatives when targeting well-to-tank GHG reduction.

Is methanol as fuel good for the environment?

The main benefit of green methanol is that it produces less CO2 than diesel combustion, as well as lower SOx and NOx emissions. The amount you can reduce emissions by will depend on the load your engines are running at. Studies have shown that, taking a tank-to-wake approach, by using methanol instead of heavy fuel oil (HFO):

  • CO2 emissions can be cut by 7%
  • SOx emissions can be cut by 99%, and
  • NOx emissions can be cut by 60%.

Methanol also biodegrades rapidly in water, which also makes it less of a risk to the environment than many alternatives.

Is methanol as marine fuel bad for the environment?

The CO2 footprint of methanol varies according to how it’s produced and transported, with fossil-based methanol generating more lifetime CO2 emissions than diesel. This makes green methanol the right choice for decarbonisation. Since the methanol molecule is the same whether it is grey, brown, blue or green, blending methanol is also a viable option to support the transition from conventional to renewable marine fuels.

How can methanol help with decarbonisation in shipping and the maritime energy transition?

The methanol molecule – CH3OH – is the same whether it is produced from grey, brown, blue or green feedstocks. This means you can blend it to help you transition gradually towards using a greater percentage of sustainable green methanol.

Is methanol expensive?

Compared to diesel operation, fuel expenses can be up to 15 times higher depending on the type of methanol consumed, its price and the share of energy provided by methanol. Although fuel expenses are higher with methanol than with diesel, this should be considered in terms of today’s regulatory environment. Vessels that fail to meet CII and EEXI targets will not be allowed to operate any longer. So the extra cost of the fuel should be compared not only with today's fossil fuel price but with the cost of a brand new and more efficient ship and with the possible losses due to a mandatory stop of operations.

The Powerzeek Energy Platform has added methanol to its online marketplace in response to increased enquiries from shipowners. Powerzeek makes it easier for shipowners and trucking companies to find and buy cleaner fuels at the best available price.

Is methanol safe onboard ships?

From the perspective of onboard safety, there are well-established rules and regulations pertaining to the use of methanol as a marine fuel in the form of the IMO’s MSC.1-Circ.1621 – Interim Guidelines For The Safety Of Ships Using Methyl/Ethyl Alcohol As Fuel. Additionally, Wärtsilä has developed a safety concept for methanol engines that acts as an internal design guideline for all marine projects that involve using methanol as a fuel.

Where can I buy methanol as fuel for ships?

If you’re looking for methanol suppliers for ships, in 2020 the Methanol Institute confirmed that methanol was available at about 100 ports around the world.

Maritime-dedicated infrastructure for methanol transportation is still in the early stages of development but is expanding all the time.

Note: The full Insight article “Methanol as marine fuel – is it the solution you are looking for?” is available at Wartsila’s website here


Photo credit: NYK, Waterfront Shipping, Vopak, TankMatch
Published: 28 February, 2023

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SMW 2024: Maritime industry on track to adopt mid-term decarbonisation measures, says IMO chief

Safety, inclusion and transparency will be key areas for Mr Arsenio Dominguez’s tenure as Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization.





SMW 2024: Maritime industry on track to adopt mid-term decarbonisation measures, says IMO chief

The article ‘Maritime industry on track to adopt mid-term decarbonisation measures: IMO chief’ was first published on Issue 1 of the Singapore Maritime Week 2024 Show Dallies; it has been reproduced in its entirety on Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times with permission from The Nutgraf and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore:

Toh Wen Li
[email protected]

The maritime industry is “on track” to roll out decarbonisation measures by 2025 as set out by the International Maritime Organization, said its new chief Arsenio Dominguez.

“We are on track to adopt mid-term measures by late 2025 to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, to reach net zero targets,” said Mr Dominguez, who took over as IMO Secretary-General in January.

In 2023, the IMO released a revised GHG strategy to reach net-zero emissions from shipping by or around 2050 – far more ambitious than its 2018 initial GHG strategy, which aimed only to cut emissions by at least 50 per cent compared to 2008.

“These will help us progress towards achieving netzero GHG emissions by or around 2050, with indicative checkpoints to reach by 2030 (cut GHG emissions by at least 20 per cent, striving for 30 per cent), and 2040 (cut GHG emissions by at least 70 per cent, striving for 80 per cent).”

Mr Dominguez, who will be speaking on the opening day of the 18th edition of SMW, also emphasised the need to keep seafarers safe against the backdrop of heightened geopolitical tensions. He said the attacks on ships in the Red Sea have far-reaching economic implications.

“Prolonged disruptions in container shipping could lead to delayed deliveries, high costs, and inflation. Energy security and food security could potentially be affected due to increased prices,” he said.

“These attacks pose serious threats to global maritime security, as well as the security and maritime trade for the coastal states in the region,” he said, calling out the Red Sea attacks as “categorically unacceptable”. But he remains confident that the industry will continue to stay resilient. “I trust that shipping organisations and Member States alike will come together in the relevant IMO fora to seek collaboration and look for solutions together.”

Mr Dominguez also pledged to create a more inclusive IMO, one that is more gender-balanced in an industry that has long been dominated by men.

“I have appointed a gender balanced senior management team and initiated a policy of refraining from participating in panels or events unless gender representation is respected. I encourage the maritime community to follow this example,” he said.

He added that the IMO will also strive to fulfil its mandate as the world’s regulator for international shipping; support IMO’s 176 Member States, particularly Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries; raise public awareness of IMO’s impact; and adopt a “people-centred approach”.

“My vision is for IMO to flourish as a transparent, inclusive, and diverse institution,” he said. 

Singapore can ‘shine a light on the way forward’

Key maritime hubs like Singapore can play a key role as the industry pushes ahead in its quest to decarbonise, said International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Secretary-General, Mr Arsenio Dominguez.

“Singapore is (in) a great position to participate in trials and pilots to show what works, including routebased actions – and share results of any trials back to IMO,” he said.

The green transition poses a slew of fresh considerations for the maritime sector. A major bunkering hub such as Singapore will need to look at making changes to infrastructure to deliver new fuels.

Other considerations for the industry include safety, pricing, lifecycle emissions, supply chain constraints, barriers to adoption and more, added Mr Dominguez. Seafarers, too, will need to be trained in how to operate new technology safely.

“We need ‘early movers’ in the industry as well as forward-looking policy makers to take the necessary risks and secure the right investments that will stimulate long-term solutions for the sector,” he said.

Singapore Maritime Week is a chance for key stakeholders to “have the conversations and discussions that can formulate ideas and bring new solutions”, Mr Dominguez said.

Now, more than ever, collaboration will be crucial. “The experience of critical maritime hubs like Singapore can help shine a light on the way forward for many issues. Here the IMO can play a role in providing opportunities for Singapore and other maritime hubs to share their expertise with all Member States. Shipping is global – no single country can go it alone.” 

Singapore Maritime Week 2024 was organised by Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore from 15 to 19 April. 


Photo credit: International Maritime Organization
Article credit: The Nutgraf/ Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 23 April, 2024

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IBIA and BIMCO to collaborate on bunker fuel and maritime challenges

Both will collaborate in areas including research initiatives, studies, and projects relevant to bunker or marine energy industry and maritime sector as well as training and education.





IBIA and BIMCO to collaborate on bunker fuel and maritime challenges

The International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) and BIMCO on Monday (22 April) said they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on some of the monumental challenges and opportunities within the areas of bunker, marine energy and maritime sectors and help facilitate shipping’s decarbonisation efforts.

The parties have agreed to leverage their respective expertise and resources to develop innovative solutions and initiatives to facilitate the transition towards cleaner fuels and efficient and sustainable shipping practices. The partnership MOU will focus on addressing the following key areas:

Research and Development: Collaborate on research initiatives, studies, and projects relevant to the bunker/marine energy industry and maritime sector.

Information Sharing: Share relevant information, publications, and data that may be beneficial to the members of both organisations.

Training and Education: Explore opportunities for joint training programs, seminars, and educational initiatives to enhance the knowledge and skills of professionals in the maritime and bunker/marine energy industry.

Influence: Work together on efforts to address common issues and challenges faced by the industry.

Alexander Prokopakis, Executive Director of IBIA, said: “This partnership between IBIA and BIMCO marks an important step towards addressing the pressing challenge of decarbonisation in the shipping industry. The collaboration underscores the industry’s collective commitment to navigating towards a greener future for maritime operations.”

David Loosley, BIMCO Secretary General & CEO, said: “As we work towards the checkpoints and targets of the updated GHG strategy of the IMO, working across all sectors that influence and support decarbonisation of shipping will be key. Our ships will be relying on many different fuel solutions in the process and working toward the safety and availability of those is crucial.” 

IBIA and BIMCO are committed to driving progress towards a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future for the global shipping industry.


Photo credit: IBIA and BIMCO
Published: 23 April 2024

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Peninsula and NYK collaborate on B30 biofuel bunkering op in Zeebrugge

Peninsula barge “New York” delivered 1,200 mt of B30 bio bunker fuel to “Garnet Leader”, a NYK vehicle carrier on 24 March in Zeebrugge, Belgium.





Peninsula and NYK collaborate on B30 biofuel bunkering op in Zeebrugge

Marine fuel supplier Peninsula on Monday (22 April) announced the successful conclusion of the first B30 biofuel supply deal in Zeebrugge, Belgium, in collaboration with the Japanese shipping company, Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK). 

The deal, which marks a significant milestone in sustainable fuel distribution, saw the delivery of 1,200 metric tonnes (mt) of B30. 

The delivery, executed on 24 March involved the vessel Garnet Leader, a NYK vehicle carrier. 

Peninsula's barge New York, played the role of ensuring the transportation and delivery of the biofuel to its destination in Zeebrugge.

Kaori Takahashi, General Manager of NYK’s Fuel Group, said: “NYK is proud to collaborate with Peninsula in this pioneering supply of B30 biofuel, which underscores our dedication to environmental sustainability and innovation in the maritime sector.”

“By leveraging sustainable biofuels like B30, we are taking meaningful strides towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

“NYK remains dedicated to driving positive change within the industry while meeting the evolving demands of our customers and stakeholders.”

B30 biofuel, a blend comprising 30% ISCC EU certified sustainable UCOME, which is biofuel derived from Used Cooking Oil, offers a promising avenue reducing GHG emissions by 84%, thus mitigating the environmental impact of maritime operations. 

By using biofuel technology, Peninsula continues to pave the way for a greener future while simultaneously meeting the evolving needs of the shipping industry.

Peninsula's Head of Biofuels Desk, Nikolas Nikolaidis, said: "As the maritime industry, along with prominent players like NYK, intensifies their adoption of Sustainable Marine Fuels (SMF), the accessibility of such solutions grows in significance.”

“Peninsula is committed to collaborating closely with our established clients and partners to deliver SMF solutions where demand is highest.”

“Peninsula is broadening its biofuel supply network, positioning itself as the leading physical marine fuel supplier to offer comprehensive biofuel solutions across multiple regions and ports for our customers."


Photo credit: Peninsula and NYK
Published: 23 April 2024

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