A.P. Moller - Maersk said on Tuesday that it is ordering eight large, ocean-going container vessels running on “carbon-neutral methanol”. The vessels will be built by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) and have a nominal capacity of approx. 16,000 containers (TEU). The agreement with HHI includes an option for 4 additional vessels in 2025. Each ship will cost $175 million, and the total cost will be $1.4 billion, according to reports.
The series will replace older vessels, generating savings on annual CO2 emissions totaling around 1 million tons. “They will hit the water from early 2024”, said Morten Bo Christiansen, Maersk’s head of decarbonization, in a video message. The ships are expected to dive into carbon-neutral transportation on the high seas a first for the industry. Maersk said the vessels would have a dual-fuel engine setup. The dual-fuel capability to enable operation on methanol, as well as conventional low Sulphur fuel, would take an additional capital expenditure range of 10-15% of the total price, according to Maersk.
Soren Skou, CEO of the company, explained that Maersk will operate the vessels on carbon-neutral e-methanol(electricity-based fuel) or sustainable bio-methanol as soon as possible. He says that sourcing an adequate amount of carbon-neutral methanol from day one in service will be challenging, as it requires a significant production ramp-up of proper carbon-neutral methanol production, for which Maersk continues to engage in partnerships and collaborations with relevant players.
The vessels will be designed to have a flexible operational profile, enabling them to perform efficiently across many trades, and add flexibility regarding customer needs. The vessels will be classed by the American Bureau of Shipping and sail under Danish flags.
Shipbuilding industries are paying attention to the fact that the contract is for “very-large” methanol propulsion vessels that differ from the previous small and medium-sized vessels such as 50,000dwt MR tankers and 2,100TEU container ships. HHI explained, "As we have advanced fuel injection technology that can greatly reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions of methanol, it can be applied to larger vessels."
The Korean shipbuilding industry is actively researching and developing large ships that operate using methanol, ammonia, or other biofuels. Samsung Heavy Industries obtained Approval in Principle(AIP) for the basic design of ammonia fuel-powered Aframax crude oil carriers in September of last year, and recently obtained AIP for the basic design of the Ammonia-Ready Very-Large Crude-oil Carrier(VLCC) from DNV. Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering also obtained a basic certification for the 23,000 TEU ammonia-propelled very-large container ships from Lloyd's Register in October last year.
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