BP, Maersk Tankers: Marine biofuel trials prove success

British oil and gas company BP and Danish tanker shipping firm Maersk Tankers, with support from the Danish Maritime Authority, have completed trials using biofuel-blended marine fuel in product tankers.

Maersk Tankers
Illustration. Image by Maersk Tankers

The trials were completed on Maersk Cirrus and Maersk Navigator – product tankers on time-charter to BP from Maersk Tankers.

As informed, they demonstrated that sustainable biofuels can be used as a marine ‘drop-in fuel’ to help reduce carbon emissions in shipping.

“With an ambition to be a net zero company by 2050 and help the world get there too, it’s vital we help decarbonize this hard-to-abate sector. We’re proud to be working with a partner like Maersk Tankers, to develop new alternative fuels and low carbon solutions that will help accelerate the shipping industry’s energy transition,” Carol Howle, BP’s executive vice president of trading & shipping, said.

“The need to cut emissions is one of the most important challenges facing shipping right now. We are only able to rise to this challenge if we do it in partnerships and explore a multitude of solutions. With bp, we are combining our expertise to play our part in testing and making alternative fuels available,” Christian M. Ingerslev, Maersk Tankers’ Chief Executive Officer, commented.

Each vessel was supplied with BP Marine B30 biofuel, consisting of 30% fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) blended with very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO).

FAME is a renewable alternative fuel (biofuel) largely produced from recycled cooking oils and renewable oil sources. It has physical properties similar to conventional diesel, and is also non-toxic and biodegradable. The origination and production of the feedstocks used to produce FAME is certified for its sustainability to internationally recognized standards.

The trials saw the vessels sail from Rotterdam to West Africa. Throughout the trials, tests were carried out to assess the reliability and performance of the B30 biofuel blend in each ship’s main engine, auxiliary engine and boiler, and any impact on fuel tanks to determine the level of interchangeability with other fuel types.

According to BP and Maersk Tankers, no adverse effects on equipment or machinery were observed during or after the trials. No modifications to the engine or infrastructure were required, demonstrating the suitability of sustainable biofuels for use as a ‘drop in fuel’.

BP aims to regularly supply biofuel blends for their operated and time-charter vessels when they refuel in the Netherlands, subject to owners and Flag-state approval.

Recently, the company also supplied marine biofuel for Japanese shipping major K Line at the Dutch port of Flushing.

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In mid-September this year, the British company signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with another Japanese carrier, NYK, to collaborate on future fuels and transportation solutions to help industrial sectors, including shipping, decarbonise.

In July 2021, BP also announced a partnership agreement with the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping committing to a long-term collaboration on the development of new alternative fuels and low carbon solutions for the shipping industry.