Japanese, Russian firms to jointly develop dual-fuel methanol carrier

Japanese shipping major Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) and compatriot general trading company Marubeni Corporation have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Russian government and companies for a joint study to build, operate and utilize a dual-fuel methanol carrier.

The agreement was signed with the Ministry of the Russian Federation for Development of the Far East and the Arctic Regions, Russian state development corporation VEB.RF, VTB Bank and private equity company ESN Limited Liability Company during the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on 3 September.

As informed, the newbuild will be equipped with a dual-fuel engine and therefore capable of operating on either methanol or very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO).

For the marine transportation of methanol which the ESN Group plans to produce from natural gas in the Amur Region of Russia, the MoU will consider introducing an environmentally friendly vessel that can reduce emissions of sulfur oxides (SOx) by up to 99%, particulate matter (PM) by up to 95%, nitrogen oxides (NOx) by up to 80% and carbon dioxide (CO2) by up to 15% compared to conventional fuel oil. This is achieved by utilizing the methanol as a bunker to move the vessel.

Because methanol is liquid at normal temperature and pressure, it has the advantage of low marine transportation costs. On land, it can also be stored in ordinary tanks for liquids as a supply base.

Marubeni and MOL said they will consider developing a project that would supply methanol as marine fuel should the demand of methanol as fuel for common vessels grow in the East Asian region in the future.

According to the duo, there is a possibility that this methanol which is to be produced and exported by the ESN Group will become a competitive supply source located within the region.

In July, UK-based shipping consultancy Drewry predicted that half of the vessels ordered after 2025 are to have dual-fuel engines, with a large percentage using methanol as marine fuel.

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Last month, Danish shipping major Maersk proved with its milestone order that the market demand for green methanol will increase rapidly.

The company ordered a total of eight 16,000 TEU ocean-going container vessels capable of being operated on carbon-neutral methanol.

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