Maersk, CMA CGM exploring green methanol bunkering potential in Australia

Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller Maersk and ANL, a subsidiary of French shipping major CMA CGM, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore the commercial feasibility of establishing a green methanol bunkering hub at the Port of Melbourne.

Illustration; Credit: Port of Melbourne

As informed, the agreement was also inked by Svitzer, Stolthaven Terminals, HAMR Energy and ABEL Energy.

The collaboration will examine a potential project involving the transportation of green methanol from production sites in Bell Bay, Tasmania (ABEL Energy) and Portland, Victoria (HAMR Energy) to Port of Melbourne for storage and bunkering services.

The MoU provides a starting point for the parties to work together to explore the various elements of establishing a green methanol bunkering hub and identify any challenges that would need to be addressed.

“Decarbonisation of the maritime industry is really gaining pace. As Australia’s largest container port with around 3,000 ships visiting annually, it makes sense that we look at ways to work together with customers, service providers and producers to understand the needs of the market,” Port of Melbourne CEO, Saul Cannon, said.

“Maersk has already ordered container vessels that will be operated on green methanol, which is a proven solution for reducing the shipping industry’s carbon emissions and mitigating its impact on the environment. As an island nation with high dependency on ocean transport, it’s vital that Australia takes a leadership role to enable the fuel transformation from fossil to green fuel,” Maersk Regional Head of Market, Oceania, My Therese Blank commented.

“Alternative energies are key to the reduction of carbon emissions throughout the supply chain. Green Methanol presents another excellent opportunity for the shipping industry to decarbonise and we are supportive of the robust exploration of a bunkering hub such as this,” ANL Managing Director, Shane Walden added.

“ABEL Energy’s first Australian green hydrogen and methanol project will be built at the port of Bell Bay, using Tasmania’s renewable hydro and wind-based power supply,” ABEL Energy CEO, Michael van Baarle, noted.

There is growing momentum around methanol as a marine fuel, with over 106 methanol-fuelled ships on order as of the end of March according to analysis from class society DNV. This includes container lines, dry bulk and tanker orders, as well as leading names from the cruise sector.

The rise in popularity, especially over the past year, has been boosted by a massive vote of confidence by one of the world’s largest container shipping companies, Maersk, the example of which has been followed by many of its peers, including CMA CGM and COSCO.

To remind, Maersk has recently launched its first methanol-powered feeder vessel at Hyundai Mipo Dockyard.

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The ship, with a capacity of around 2,000 TEU, was ordered back in 2021. While the vessel will be able to operate on standard VLSFO, the plan is to operate it on carbon-neutral e-methanol or sustainable bio-methanol from day one.

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The feeder will be followed by 18 large ocean-going vessels of 16,000-17,200 TEU capacity which are scheduled for delivery in 2024 and 2025.

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