Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto, BP team up on one-year sustainable biofuel trial

Anglo-Australian mining group Rio Tinto and British energy company BP have agreed to work together on a one-year biofuel trial to help reduce carbon emissions from Rio Tinto’s marine fleet.

Business Wire
Rio Tinto
Photo: Business Wire

Under the trial, BP is supplying Rio Tinto with marine biofuel for approximately 12 months.

The fuel will be trialled on Rio Tinto’s bulk carrier RTM Tasman vessel on a mix of Transatlantic and Atlantic-Pacific routes, in what is said to be one of the longest-duration marine biofuel trials to date.

As explained, the results of the trial will help Rio Tinto study ways to reduce its carbon emissions from its marine fleet and inform its future biofuel strategy.

“Sustainable biofuels have the potential to be an important transition fuel on the way to net-zero marine emissions and we are pleased to be working with BP to carry out this long-term trial,” Laure Baratgin, Rio Tinto Head of Commercial Operations, commented.

“A longer-duration trial will provide important information on the potential role and wide scale use of biofuels, and aligns with our goals to reduce marine emissions across our value chain and support efforts to decarbonise the maritime industry.”

“Our ambition is to reach net-zero emissions from shipping of our products to customers by 2050 and to introduce net-zero carbon vessels into our portfolio by 2030. We know that we won’t meet these ambitions alone and along the way will need to work with … experienced companies such as BP.”

“Sustainable biofuels are important to help decarbonise the shipping industry in the near- and mid-term as we transition towards longer term net zero solutions. We’re proud to be working with Rio Tinto to support their work to decarbonise. These trials are part of our ongoing efforts to help accelerate the shipping industry’s energy transition,” Sven Boss-Walker, senior vice president refining & products trading, BP, said.

The extended trial agreement follows a successful journey on the RTM Tasman after it refuelled with biofuel in Rotterdam in March 2022 for the first time and then picked up its first load of the trial at the Iron Ore Company of Canada’s Sept-Îles port in Quebec in April.

All biofuel refuelling during the trial will be at Rotterdam. The trial is using a BP-manufactured B30 biofuel blend composed of 30% fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) blended with very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO). This B30 biofuel blend can reduce lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions by up to 26% compared to standard marine fuel oil.

FAME is a renewable alternative fuel (biodiesel) largely produced from recycled cooking oils and renewable oil sources. It has physical properties similar to conventional diesel, and is a ‘drop in fuel’, requiring no modifications to the engine or vessel. The origination and production of the feedstocks used to produce the FAME is certified for its sustainability to internationally recognized standards.

Working with BP and the ship manager Anglo-Eastern, the trial will analyse a series of engine and fuel performance factors, including engine efficiency and fuel consumption, corrosion and degradation, microbial growth, temperature impact, fuel switching impacts and fuel stability.

Rio Tinto is also accelerating the delivery of its climate commitments on shipping. It has delivered a 30% intensity reduction on its owned and time-chartered fleet from a 2008 baseline and is on track to meet the International Maritime Organisation’s 2030 targets of a 40% reduction in emissions five years early, by 2025.

BP is working with companies in key industrial sectors such as shipping, that have significant carbon emissions to manage, supporting their work to decarbonize. Last year, it joined the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping to work on the development of new alternative fuels and low carbon solutions for the shipping industry. 

Moreover, BP was collaborating with Danish shipping firm Maersk Tankers to trial biofuel-blended marine fuel in product tankers.

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