OCI to fuel Maersk’s 1st green methanol-powered feeder

Dutch producer and distributor of hydrogen-based products OCI Global is fueling the first-ever green methanol-powered container ship in a new partnership with A.P. Moller-Maersk.

Image credit Maersk

OCI revealed that it will provide ISCC-certified green biomethanol to power the maiden voyage of Maersk’s first methanol dual-fueled container ship once the vessel leaves South Korea this summer.

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The 172-meter-long feeder was launched on April 4 at South Korea’s Hyundai Mipo Dockyard. The vessel is now undergoing final touches before being delivered this summer. Once it embarks on its maiden voyage it will sail along one of the world’s busiest shipping routes to Northern Europe via the Suez Canal, bunkering at several major ports along its journey.

The 21,500 km trip from Ulsan, South Korea to Copenhagen, Denmark will provide real operational experience for Maersk seafarers handling the new engines and using methanol as fuel, as the company prepares to receive a fleet of new, large ocean-going methanol-enabled ships from 2024.

“The green methanol market is still in its infancy and frankly we had not expected to be able to secure a maiden voyage on green methanol for this vessel. So, we are very proud to have achieved this significant milestone. We expect a diverse green fuel mix for the future, with green bio-methanol from biomass waste being available now,” says Morten Bo Christiansen, Head of Energy Transition, A.P. Moller – Maersk.

This is the world’s first container vessel sailing on green methanol, and the partnership will pave the way for the first ship-to-ship methanol bunkering operation done between Maersk and OCI Global at locations across the globe, taking in East Asia, Africa and Europe.

OCI said it was in the process of obtaining the approvals and permits required to commercially bunker methanol in several ports on the ship’s voyage, including the Port of Rotterdam, positioning OCI as the first commercial bunker operator of methanol in these regions.

“This voyage is an important milestone in the expansion of OCI’s renewable and low-carbon fuels business, a key pillar of OCI’s sustainable growth strategy. As the maritime industry navigates increased regulation to accelerate decarbonization, such as the FuelEU Maritime initiative, OCI anticipates incremental global demand for methanol at 4 million tons per year in the next five years, based on current orders from the marine sector,” the company said.

OCI is focused on being the last mile operator of choice at strategic bunkering ports, leveraging partnerships with relevant authorities and certification bodies, terminal infrastructure partners, and bunker barge operators. In February, OCI announced its project with Unibarge to retrofit the first methanol-powered bunker barge, to be deployed at the Port of Rotterdam.

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Through its OCI HyFuels brand, OCI is the largest green methanol producer globally. It has led the development of green methanol application in vehicle fuels, now placing up to 200,000 tons per annum equivalent and is growing its suite of low-carbon and green methanol products, including biomethanol, e-methanol, recycled carbon fuel (RCF) methanol, renewable natural gas, ethanol and bio-MTBE.

OCI produces its green methanol at a US-based facility by using captured biogas from decomposing organic waste in landfills. The biogas is upgraded to biomethane and injected into the gas grid and the methanol is produced from the biomethane in the grid on a mass-balance basis.

This way, green methanol can be produced in existing facilities using existing infrastructure and plants enabling a quick production. The method can contribute to a greener gas grid while capturing harmful methane emissions that would arise from the waste feedstock if left untouched.

In anticipation of the expected demand for renewable and low carbon ammonia and methanol, OCI has announced several projects to increase sustainable production of its two core products. These include GasifHy, the gasification project at its existing European methanol facility to shift it to green methanol production; a 1.1mtpa blue ammonia plant in Texas, USA, scheduled to start production in 2025 and its Egypt Green ammonia facility through Fertiglobe (a strategic partnership between OCI and ADNOC), where the first tons of green ammonia from electrolysis were produced earlier this year.

“I’m delighted that we are partnering with Maersk to power the first-ever green methanol voyage with OCI HyFuels green methanol. This marks another significant milestone in our global leadership in supplying and trading renewable and low carbon fuels to decarbonize energy-intensive industries,” Ahmed El-Hoshy, CEO at OCI Global, said.

“With the maritime industry facing increasing regulatory scrutiny, its decarbonization is urgent, and OCI is playing a crucial role in helping the sector meet its environmental goals through our existing methanol capabilities; helping us build our position in the marine and fuels markets to capitalize on the coming ammonia fuel demand.”

“Marine has been the main buzz around methanol for several years, so to secure the first real green sale and voyage is testament to our team’s hard work and further reinforces OCI HyFuels as the only large-scale green methanol solution for road and bunker,” Bashir Lebada, CEO of OCI Methanol/HyFuels said.

“We welcome our partnership with Maersk and their leadership in decarbonizing the maritime sector; their early focus on methanol and conviction to order vessels has led us to where we are today. This also highlights our distribution system and last mile capabilities where we will continue to leverage our road fuel logistics and fuel blending system, and add to our green bunker barge fleet as demand grows.”

“We would like to thank OCI Global for showing great leadership and for a good collaboration on fueling the maiden voyage for our landmark vessel. We are grateful for the way OCI Global has committed to help A.P. Moller – Maersk deliver valuable services to our customers. Together, as trusted partners, we are driving a much-needed transition in a heavy-pollution industry. Because of the work by companies like OCI Global, that transition can hopefully be accelerated in the years to come,” Emma Mazhari, Head of Energy Markets at A.P. Moller – Maersk, said.

Maersk has chosen Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, to be the godmother of Maersk’s new feeder vessel.

The Commission President will formally name the vessel at a ceremony in Copenhagen on September 14, where it arrives on its maiden voyage, before heading to its regular operational route in the Baltic Sea. The Danish-flagged 172-meter-long vessel is a key milestone for Maersk’s plans to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions in 2040 across the entire business.

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