COSCO Line to retrofit containership quartet to methanol

Following in the pioneering footsteps of Maersk, Chinese shipping heavyweight COSCO Line is embarking on a journey to retrofit some of its containerships for methanol propulsion.

Image credit: MAN ES

Namely, COSCO Line has partnered with compatriot China’s COSCO Heavy Industry Shanghai, a COSCO Group shipyard, to retrofit four main engines of a containership quartet to methanol.

The vessels belong to COSCO Line’s ‘Camellia’ and ‘Virgo’ class, boasting capacities of 13,800 and 20,000 TEU respectively.

The shipyard has signed a deal with engine manufacturing powerhouse MAN Energy Solutions for the dual-fuel methanol-powered ME-LGIM engines.

Currently equipped with single-fuel MAN B&W 11S90ME-C10.5 engines, the vessels will be retrofitted to dual-fuel MAN B&W 11S90ME-LGIM10.5 units capable of operating on fuel-oil or methanol. The retrofit is expected to make the ships the first vessels in COSCO’s fleet to sail on methanol.

The contract also includes an option for the retrofit of an additional nine vessels from the line’s 20,000 TEU ‘Virgo’ and ‘Pisces’ -classes. COSCO Heavy Industry Shanghai Co. Ltd. will act as a complete turnkey solution provider for the COSCO Line retrofits.

MAN Energy Solutions will provide a solution package comprising engineering, parts, project management, onsite technical assistance at yard, sea-trial assistance, and recertification service for the engine retrofits. To this end, the company has undertaken an R&D program and invested in a testbed to develop the Liquid Gas Injection Methanol (S90-LGIM) retrofit solution.

The first vessel of the series is scheduled for retrofit in Q2 2025 when these vessels will also become the first fitted with S90-LGIM engines to sail the world’s oceans.

“It’s very promising to see one of the largest shipping companies globally choosing MAN Energy Solutions as a partner to attain their decarbonization goals. We are committed to bringing more retrofit solutions to the market and our investment in the S90-LGIM R&D and testbed program is a fulfillment of this promise to our customers,” Michael Petersen, Senior Vice President and Head of PrimeServ Denmark, said.

The new order follows on the heels of the recent methanol retrofit order by A.P. Moller – Maersk, the Danish integrated logistics company – for the retrofit of the G95 main engines aboard 11 of its container vessels to dual-fuel. More than 300 vessels globally are currently equipped with S90 engines and MAN Energy Solutions expects this new business to kick off a major wave of S90 retrofits.

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“Our retrofit solutions are now accepted as a proven way of attaining dual-fuel capability to deliver lower emissions, and COSCO’s methanol retrofits are yet another instance of this. We are in the early days of a huge wave of dual-fuel retrofits and see many concrete projects coming online with the capacity to meet shipping’s demand for green fuels, such as e-methanol and bioLNG. We expect that owners who have opted to wait and watch over the past few years will ultimately also convert their tonnage to dual-fuel,” Petersen added.

“2030 is the year where China targets peak carbon emission, while 2060 is its target for achieving net-zero. The decision to retrofit the propulsion engines in its fleet to methanol operation is a bold step in the right direction from COSCO, leading the way to green transportation and maritime decarbonization,” Sarath Prasannan, Head of Region APAC, said.

COSCO group is pursuing a strategy to promote the use of clean fuels in its fleet in line with the shipping industry’s decarbonization efforts.

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Last year, Hong Kong-listed shipping major COSCO Shipping Holdings placed an order for the construction of twelve 24,000 TEU methanol dual-fuel containerships worth $2.87 billion.

The construction contract was signed by the company’s subsidiaries Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) and Cosco Shipping Lines with Nantong Cosco Khi Ship Engineering (NACKS) and Dalian COSCO KHI Ship Engineering Co. (DACKS).

The delivery of the newbuilding containerships, each valued at $ 239.8 million, will be spread across 2026 and 2028.