HMM splashes $1.12 bln on 9 methanol-fuelled containerships

South Korean shipping company HMM has signed newbuilding contracts with compatriot Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries (HSHI) and HJ Shipbuilding and Construction (HJSC) for nine 9,000 TEU containerships powered by methanol dual-fuel engines.

Image by HMM

The company confirmed to our newsdesk that it was looking into ordering methanol-powered vessels in December 2022. The move is being pursued as part of the shipping major’s future growth strategy, which has earmarked $11.3 billion for future investments. These include the expansion of eco-friendly ships from the current 820,000 TEU to 1.2 million TEU by 2026.

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Under the agreement, HSHI and HJSC will build seven and two vessels, respectively, costing a total of $1.12 billion. The ships are scheduled to be deployed on the Asia-North/Latin America trade lanes and the Asia-India routes, with expected delivery from 2025 to 2026.

HMM said that the green shipping corridors between Busan in Korea and key ports in the U.S. are also one of the potential routes to operate the new ships.

During the World Leaders Summit of COP27 in November 2022, South Korea and the U.S. announced technical cooperation to accelerate the decarbonization of the shipping industry through the early adoption of zero-emission fuels and relevant technologies.

Both governments will implement a feasibility study to explore the potential of creating green shipping routes between major ports in Korea and the U.S.

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In addition, HMM has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with five fuel suppliers, including Proman, PTTEP, European Energy, and Hyundai Corporation, to secure the supply of methanol for its newly-ordered vessels.

HMM plans to conduct a feasibility study with each partner to procure various types of methanol in its main bunkering ports and, subsequently, will collaborate to produce green methanol as part of developing carbon-neutral fuels.

“Partnerships like this are vital if we want to make tangible progress towards meeting the shipping sustainability challenge. Proman and HMM have complementary skills enabling them to jointly develop this concept for HMM to benefit from a methanol-based pathway to a sustainable future,” Peter Schild, Proman’s Managing Director for Sustainability, said.

“We will continue to drive efforts to support the global community’s broader transition to carbon neutrality while at the same time strengthening our fundamental level of future capability in the face of increasingly fierce competition in the global market,” said President and CEO of HMM, Kim, Kyung Bae.

HMM is following in the footsteps of its European and Asian counterparts, Maersk, CMA CGM and COSCO which have backed methanol as the alternative fuel for the maritime industry that can bring down emissions today.

Conventional methanol from natural gas is widely available, and estimates show that it can cut NOx by 60%, and CO2 emissions from the vessel’s operations by up to 15% on a tank-to-wake basis, compared to conventional marine fuels. Green methanol can reduce these even further.

What is more, methanol is biodegradable which is another advantage in cases of fuel spills as it would not be harmful to the marine environment.

The order forms part of HMM’s objective of reaching net-zero carbon emissions across its fleet by 2050. To achieve the target, the company is looking into a range of sustainable energy sources, including methanol, LNG, hydrogen, and green ammonia.

Earlier this week, HMM joined forces with compatriot industry majors to explore the potential of nuclear power for ships and potential production of hydrogen.

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