World’s First Methanol-Powered Tankers Set for Delivery

Photo credit: Hyundai Mipo Dockyard
Photo credit: Hyundai Mipo Dockyard

The first ocean-going vessels capable of running on methanol fuel are being prepared for delivery later this month. 

The seven 50,000 DWT tankers are built with the first-of-its kind MAN B&W ME-LGI 2-stroke dual fuel engines that can run on methanol, fuel oil, marine diesel oil, or gas oil.

File photo:
File photo: Waterfront Shipping

Methanol is viewed as a clean-burning fuel considered to be a viable alternative to the industry’s increasingly stringent emissions regulations. It is a biodegradable marine fuel that reduces smog-causing emissions such as particulates, sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides.

Partners in the project for the seven vessels include Waterfront Shipping Company Ltd. (WFS), Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL), Westfal-Larsen Management (WL), and Marinvest/Skagerack Invest (Marinvest)

“Working with our partners to advance new, clean technology is an important and innovative step in the right direction. Investing in methanol-based marine fuel reinforces our commitment to invest in sustainable technology that not only provides environmental benefits but also an economically viable alternative marine fuel. The cost to build new and convert existing vessels to run on methanol is significantly less than alternate fuel conversions,” stated Jone Hognestad, President, Waterfront Shipping.

Waterfront Shipping, which operates the world’s largest methanol ocean tanker fleet, will charter the seven vessels to replace older vessels and expand its fleet. Two of the vessels are owned by WL, two are jointly owned by Marinvest and WFS, and the remaining three vessels are owned by MOL. The ships were built by Hyundai Mipo Dockyard and Minaminippon Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. The first three vessels are being delivered in April, with the remaining four to be delivered by October 2016.

“MAN developed these 2-stroke engines in response to interest from the shipping world to operate on alternatives to heavy fuel oil and meet increasingly stringent emissions regulations. To hedge the risk of fuel price volatility, the vessels can switch between fuels, and operate cost-effectively,” said Ole Grøne Senior Vice President, Head of Marketing and Sales, MAN Diesel & Turbo.

The ship naming ceremony for two of the dual vessel vessels, owned by WL with the second as a joint venture with WFS/Marinvest, will take place in South Korea on April 18, with official delivery on April 20 and 28. (Update: The first vessel, named Lindanger, was delivered April 21, 2016 at Hyundai Mipo Dockyard). 

“This investment is very much aligned with our vision and leadership to supply safe and environmentally friendly transports. The ability to run on a sulphur-free fuel offers great potential and provides innovative solutions for the world’s energy needs,” said Patrik Mossberg, Chairman, Marinvest.

“To be one of the shipping companies helping to lead this effort makes sense for our business. It’s great to be part of an innovative solution,” added Rolf Westfal-Larsen, President and CEO, Westfal-Larsen Management.

MOL will take delivery of its dual-fuel vessel in Japan on April 22. “We are excited and proud of the delivery of our first vessel, installed with the first dual-fuel engine in Japan. We are pleased that our technical expertise has been utilized for this commemorative occasion. Having these vessels operating on methanol marine fuel provides shippers and port facilities with a practical and diversified fuel solution that meets today’s and tomorrow’s emission requirements”, states Yoshikazu Kawagoe, Managing Executive Officer (Technical), Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd.

The Stena Line ferry Stena Germanica is currently the only commercial ship in the world that uses methanol as its main fuel. The ship returned to service in March 2015 after having been converted at the Remontowa Shipyard in Gdansk, Poland. The ferry operates between Kiel, Germany and Gothenburg, Sweden.