Eastern Pacific sets path to switch to methanol and ammonia as marine fuels

Singapore’s Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Dutch OCI N.V. and engine manufacturer MAN Energy Solutions to develop methanol and ammonia as marine fuels.

Under the MoU, the partners will select conventional vessels from EPS’ existing tanker fleet that use MAN engines to be retrofitted, allowing them to be powered by methanol and ammonia which will be supplied by the Dutch producer and distributor of nitrogen and methanol products OCI.

Also, Eastern Pacific Shipping is planning to build new vessels with MAN engines powered by the same two alternative marine fuels. As informed, OCI intends to charter the first retrofitted vessel from EPS. 

“As a leading tonnage provider, EPS has taken a firm stance that sustainability begins with accountability. This means we have a responsibility to implement emission lowering solutions available today while simultaneously developing solutions for tomorrow,” EPS CEO Cyril Ducau said.

“Converting our existing conventional fleet to burn methanol creates a unique opportunity to continue lowering our carbon footprint significantly and rapidly. In the meantime, developing ammonia-fuelled conversion and newbuilding projects will help develop more mature zero-carbon solutions in the longer-term.”

The partnership highlights the importance of cooperation at a time when the shipping industry is faced with the decarbonization challenge and growing pressure to accelerate the process and stop sitting on the sidelines.

The partners said the MoU is an example of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good, as the technology to retrofit vessels to run on methanol exists today while using methanol and ammonia on newbuilds is still a few years away. 

 Methanol and ammonia are very interesting candidates as zero-carbon fuels for MAN as well. The company has already introduced a methanol-burning two-stroke engine, and it expects to deliver the first ammonia-fueled engine in 2024.

“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. 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,” Ahmed El-Hoshy, Chief Executive Officer of OCI NV, said.

“We see this as starting with the adoption of grey/blue methanol and ammonia and then shifting to green as production costs come down, customer appetites move towards green and regulations continue to develop.”