Eidesvik and Wärtsilä bringing to life world’s first ammonia conversion project

Norwegian offshore vessel owner Eidesvik Offshore has signed a cooperation agreement with the technology group Wärtsilä to retrofit an offshore supply vessel (OSV) with an ammonia-fuelled combustion engine along with the required safety system and fuel supply.

Eidesvik's Viking Energy vessel (for illustration purposes); Source: Eidesvik

The conversation project, named Apollo, will be the first of its kind in the world, according to Eidesvik. The provisional completion target for the project is late 2023.

Jan Fredrik Meling, CEO & President of Eidesvik commented on the use of ammonia to fuel the ship’s engine: “Using ammonia as a fuel is seen as a key future contributor to shipping’s energy transition, and we’re excited to be the first offshore shipowner taking this step.”

Eidesvik explains that the vessel considered for the conversion has Wärtsilä dual-fuel engines, which operate primarily with LNG fuel, while the retrofit will allow the supply vessel to operate with a 70 per cent ammonia blend. An engine fuelled with this percentage of ammonia blend passed Wärtsilä’s laboratory tests successfully.

Photo: The Wärtsilä and Eidesvik personnel leading the ammonia conversion project. From left to right Jan Lodden; Chief Operation Officer, Eidesvik Offshore, Hans-Petter Nesse, Managing Director, Wärtsilä Norway, Gitte Gard Talmo, Chief Commercial Officer, Eidesvik Offshore and Cato Esperø, Head of Sales, Wärtsilä Norway; Courtesy of Eidesvik

Both companies have expressed their support of the industry’s efforts to decarbonise its operations and stressed their commitment to the transition process. Ultimately, the engine operation with 100 per cent ammonia and minimum ignition fuel requirement is the end goal, since, ammonia has the potential to drastically reduce emissions of CO2.

Hans Petter Nesse, Managing Director of Wärtsilä Norway stated: “Collaborating with Eidesvik on this groundbreaking project is an exciting and important step towards carbon-free shipping. Naturally, we are also working with classification societies on measures to ensure safe and environmentally
sustainable use.”

Eidesvik has been used LNG fuel in its fleet since 2003, and fuel cells since 2006. The firm strongly believes that newbuilds need to have the appropriate technologies while existing vessels need to be retrofitted accordingly to achieve the industry’s decarbonisation targets. The company also argues that prolonging the life of existing assets not only requires less capital but is also less energy-intensive than building new ones.

“We are already well advanced in the development of ammonia as a viable marine fuel, and are actively working on other future carbon-free fuels as well. Our strong in-house competencies are very much being utilised to support our commitment to decarbonising shipping,” added Nesse.

The Wärtsilä-led Zero Emissions Energy Distribution at Sea (ZEEDS) project, planning to develop ammonia-powered newbuilds and convert suitable existing vessels, also ties in with the ammonia conversion project.

The two companies have also partnered to equip a platform supply vessel, Viking Energy, with a 2MW fuel cell running on green ammonia in the EU-funded ShipFC project. According to Eidesvik, this installation is scheduled to take place in late 2023.

In April this year, Eidesvik expressed its intention to upgrade its service operation vessel (SOV) Acergy Viking with a battery pack and hybrid propulsion solution, as part of the company’s ambition to achieve a 50 per cent reduction of its fleet emissions by 2030.

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The conversion is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2022 and is expected to bring a reduction of diesel consumption (MGO) by up to 350 tonnes per year, with a corresponding reduction in CO2 emissions of more than 1,000 tonnes per year.