Image courtesy Eastern Pacific Shipping

Eastern Pacific Shipping Seeks to Retrofit Tankers to Methanol and Ammonia Fuel

Mike Schuler
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March 5, 2021

Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping has kicked off plans for a partnership to develop methanol and ammonia as alternative marine fuels to help reduce carbon emissions from its fleet and the shipping industry in general.

A Memorandum of Understanding for the partnership was announced Friday with OCI N.V., a nitrogen and methanol producer, and MAN Energy solutions. Under the agreement, certain vessels in EPS’ tanker fleet that are equipped with MAN engines will be retrofitted to burn methanol and ammonia as their main source of fuel. EPS will also commit to newbuild vessels equipped with methanol and ammonia-powered MAN main engines.

The fuel will be supplied by OCI, who has also agreed to charter the first retrofitted tanker from EPS.

“Converting our existing conventional fleet to burn methanol creates a unique opportunity to continue lowering our carbon footprint significantly and rapidly,” said Eastern Pacific Shipping’s CEO Cyril Ducau. “In the meantime, developing ammonia-fueled conversion and newbuilding projects will help develop more mature zero-carbon solutions in the longer-term. We are excited about the next steps and to share our findings with the industry.”

While some methanol-fueled vessels are already in operation, ammonia is yet to make its debut within the shipping industry (although plans are underway for the first ammonia-fueled retrofit sometime in 2024). Both fuels are viewed as promising candidates for replacing traditional carbon-based marine fuels as the shipping industry seeks to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in-line with the International Maritime Organization’s target of at least a 50% reduction by 2050, compared to 2008 levels.

“The use of ammonia or methanol as a shipping fuel is particularly promising as these products are among the best-placed alternatives to help this sector decarbonize in a cost-effective way,” said Ahmed El-Hoshy, Chief Executive Officer of OCI NV. “We are confident that, in addition to the exciting developments on new-builds, existing vessels can economically convert their engines to use our low-carbon products and help the industry meet its goals.”

Brian Østergaard Sørensen is Vice President and Head of R&D for MAN Energy Solutions’ Two-Stroke Business. He agrees that both methanol and ammonia could significantly contribute to shipping’s path towards decarbonization.

“Methanol and ammonia are very interesting candidates as zero-carbon fuels,” says Sørensen. “In fact, we have already introduced a methanol-burning two-stroke engine, while we expect to deliver the first ammonia-fueled engine in 2024. MAN Energy Solutions is fully committed to the maritime energy transition and the development of technology that exploits alternative, clean fuels.”

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