Photo: Viridis Bulk Carriers

New partner joins Norway’s ammonia-powered short-sea shipping project

Viridis Bulk Carriers, a joint venture of Norwegian shipping consultancy Amon Maritime and compatriot shipowners Navigare Shipping & Logistics and AS Mosvolds Rederi, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Stema Shipping to collaborate on ammonia-powered short-sea shipping project “FlexBulk – NH3 Power”.

As explained, the company will join the other 7 cargo owners Elkem, Vestkorn, Yara, BioMar, Franzefoss Minerals, Viken AT Market and Saltimport. The project’s goal is to reduce the cost impact of using carbon-free ammonia fuel, which may initially be more expensive than fuels used today.

According to the partners, the realization of the project will have a significant impact on local pollutants and global CO2 emissions from shipping, in addition to reducing value chain emissions for food-, fish feed-, metals-, fertilizer-, construction-, and other industries which transport large bulk and special project cargo volumes.  

“We are very pleased to welcome Stema Shipping to our Flex-Bulk Project. Stema is a significant player in the European short-sea market, and offers cargo volumes that fits perfectly together with the other 7 charterers in the project. As the development of our new fleet is moving into the next phase, we are happy to see that more cargo owners are getting aware of the challenges laying ahead,” said Espen Nordstrøm at Viridis Bulk Carriers.

“Replacing the aging short sea tonnage, and decarbonisation of the supply chain will be decisive factors for the industry in the years to come, and Viridis Bulk Carriers will provide both.” 

Since the start of the project in 2020 considerable technical development, design iterations and optimizing of the vessel design have been achieved.

Last December, the project received NOK 13.75 million in development funding from the Norwegian Pilot-E program to build ammonia-powered vessels. 

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Viridis Bulk Carriers expect to place orders for ships during 2023, with deliveries starting in 2025. 

As the maritime industry is moving towards zero emissions it’s essential that green vessels will be able to support the operational needs and flexibility the charterers require. This means that the green vessels of tomorrow must have similar operational capacities, like cargo intake and sailing range, for this to have a large uptake,” stated Karl Arthur Bræin, at Viridis Bulk Carriers.

Ammonia has by far the best energy density of the zero carbon alternatives to support this. This is the only way that the decarbonization of the maritime industry will be able to move at speed.”

As the European Union (EU) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) are increasing their emission reduction targets for the maritime industry, Viridis is preparing to meet new regulations. The company is also a consortium member of “Ammonia Fuel Bunkering Network”, which will build a bunkering network in Scandinavia in collaboration with Yara.

The first terminal will be delivered in 2024 as part of the Green Platform-backed project. Yara has pre-ordered an additional 15 bunkering terminals for the Scandinavian market. This is expected to ensure delivery security for ammonia fuel to the Viridis Bulk Carriers fleet. 

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