Pioneering steps: OCI Global bunkers world’s 1st green methanol-powered containership as the feeder starts its maiden voyage

Dutch producer and distributor of hydrogen-based products OCI Global has completed what has been described as ‘the world’s first green methanol bunkering operation’ at the Port of Ulsan, Korea.

Image credit Odfjell Terminals Korea

The bunkering operation took place on Sunday, July 16, when OCI fueled A.P. Moller Maersk’s first green methanol-powered container ship with 1,000 metric tonnes of OCI HyFuels ISCC-certified green methanol at Odfjell Terminal Korea (OTK).

The company said that the operation marks ‘a groundbreaking moment in the decarbonization of the shipping industry.’

Maersk took delivery of the 2,100 TEU boxship from Hyundai Mipo Dockyard last week.

The official naming and delivery of the vessel are scheduled for September in Copenhagen, with Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, picked as the godmother of the vessel.

The name of the vessel is expected to be Maersk Solstice.

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OCI explained that the bunkering operation serves as a catalyst for future green methanol initiatives, positioning the company as the ‘first commercial bunker operator of green methanol on a global scale.’

“I’m delighted that the world’s first green methanol-fueled container ship, fueled by OCI Hyfuels, has departed safely from Ulsan. This journey marks the beginning of a new, more sustainable era in shipping and proves the reliability, safety, and efficiency of green methanol as the first low carbon shipping fuel,” OCI CEO Ahmed El-Hoshy said.

“The successful bunkering is a testament to the collaboration of our partners including the Ulsan Port Authority, Maersk and transportation and storage partner, Odfjell, with the support of the Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. We look forward to continuing our crucial role in bunkering green methanol to the ship at each stage of its journey to Europe.” 

“We congratulate Maersk on this important milestone and are proud to be the first terminal to successfully supply green methanol bunkering to this unique vessel,” said OTK’s Chief Commercial Officer Joseph Kim.

“Over the past months, business reviews and technical efforts have been conducted on safe and successful methanol bunker supply models. We expect these results to be the cornerstone of the methanol bunkering business moving forward.”

The bunkering operation follows OCI’s announcement from last month that it was partnering with Maersk to fuel the feeder, ensuring that the ship’s maiden voyage will be net-zero.

“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,” said Morten Bo Christiansen, Head of Energy Transition, A.P. Moller – Maersk.

The bio-methanol that will be used for the maiden voyage of Maersk’s feeder vessel will be produced from biogas obtained from landfills in the United States. This bio-methanol will fulfill the company’s sustainability criteria, achieving a 65% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions throughout its lifecycle.

The vessel will now sail through some of the world’s busiest shipping routes, bunkering in Singapore, Egypt, and Rotterdam en route.

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.

“Maersk is excited to collaborate with Ulsan Port on the maiden voyage of the world’s first container vessel sailing on green methanol. This journey is an important step in our efforts to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, as it will allow us to gain the necessary operational experience with the new engines and fuel ahead of the arrival of our larger methanol-enabled vessels in the coming years,” said Christiansen.

Namely, the feeder will be followed by 25 large ocean-going vessels of 9,000-17,200 TEU capacity which are scheduled for delivery in 2024 and 2027.