MPA, Yara join ammonia-fuelled tanker initiative

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and Norwegian fertilizer company Yara International ASA have joined the ammonia-fuelled tanker project launched a year ago.

In January 2020, Malaysia’s shipping group MISC Berhad, South Korean shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries (SHI), UK’s classification society Lloyd’s Register (LR) and Germany’s engine manufacturer MAN Energy Solutions decided to work together on the joint development project (JDP).

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Now, the JDP partners also unveiled the name of the expanded coalition – The Castor Initiative.

“This JDP has come a long way since our inception in January 2020 and it now stands complete as The Castor Initiative… We are certainly excited with the expansion of the alliance and look forward to unlocking new possibilities to accomplish our GHG aspirations ahead of 2050 together with MPA and Yara,” Yee Yang Chien, MISC President and Group CEO, commented.

The two announcements were made at a recent webinar focused on Ammonia as a Shipping Fuel which was organised by The Getting to Zero Coalition’s Fuels & Technologies workstream.

As explained, Yara will work alongside MISC, LR, SHI and MAN to develop ammonia propulsion ships to support the maritime industry’s drive to decarbonisation.

In addition, the consortium will be able to tap into MPA’s experience as a bunkering hub and flag state to gather insights on safety issues and ammonia bunkering procedures, and gain access to research capabilities in Singapore.

The addition of MPA and Yara means that the alliance now has a complete representation from all areas of the maritime ecosystem. The experience and expertise of each partner will be central to the success of the initiative, from conception to project realisation, according to JDP members.

This announcement follows a key project milestone in September 2020 when LR awarded Approval in Principle to SHI for its ammonia-fuelled tanker design with the aim of commercialising these developments by 2024. 

To meet the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) 2050 ambitions on halving greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 2008 levels, zero-carbon vessels need to enter the world fleet by 2030. The JDP was motivated by the partners’ shared belief that the maritime industry needs leadership and greater collaboration if shipping is to meet the IMO’s GHG ambitions.

While ammonia is one of the fuels being considered by maritime stakeholders, the partners also recognise that the shipping industry will need to explore multiple decarbonisation pathways and hope their collaboration will spur others in the maritime industry to join forces on addressing this global challenge.

“Supporting the enabling role of ammonia in the energy transition, we recognise the need for value chain collaboration to make zero-emission shipping by using ammonia as a fuel a reality,” Magnus Ankarstrand, EVP Clean Ammonia, Yara, pointed out.

“Decarbonisation remains a key priority for the maritime sector, not just in Singapore but globally. As a transshipment and bunkering hub, we are committed to meet IMO2030/2050 decarbonisation goals. We are also looking forward to collaborating with like-minded industry partners to support the development and trials of alternative future marine fuels such as ammonia,” Quah Ley Hoon, MPA Chief Executive, said.