Methanol-fueled ships mark one year at sea

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The following is the text of a news release from Methanex:

(VANCOUVER, British Columbia) — April 2017 marks one year since Waterfront Shipping (WFS) began welcoming seven of the world’s first oceangoing vessels capable of running on methanol into its fleet. The first three vessels were delivered in April 2016 and the remaining four later in the year.

These innovative vessels have achieved accolades from the marine industry for their use of clean-burning methanol as an alternative marine fuel. Over the past year, the seven 50,000-dwt methanol tankers — powered by two-stroke dual-fuel engines capable of running on methanol, fuel oil, marine diesel oil or gas oil — have been operating safely and reliably across the globe.

“It has been exciting working with our shipping partners over the last few years to advance this new, clean technology,” said Jone Hognestad, former president of Waterfront Shipping, who retired in March 2017. “Investing in methanol-based marine fuel is an important step in the right direction and reinforces our commitment to sustainable proven technology that provides environmental benefits and meets emission regulations.”

“In 2012, we were looking to renew part of our fleet as time charter vessel contracts naturally expired and to add new vessels to the fleet to meet increased product transportation needs. As an innovative and leading global marine transportation company and a wholly owned subsidiary of Methanex Corp., the world’s largest producer and supplier of methanol, it was only natural that we investigated methanol as a future fuel for our vessels," said Hognestad.

WFS invited three shipping companies — Marinvest/Skagerack Invest (Marinvest), Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. (MOL), and Westfal-Larsen Management (WL) — to collaborate on the project and in December 2013 announced plans to commission these dual-fuel vessels. Shipping partners, engine manufacturer MAN Diesel and Turbo SE, and the two shipyards building the vessels, Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in Korea and Minaminippon in Japan, worked closely to bring this commitment to life. Since then, it has demonstrated and verified the potential to move the shipping industry forward.

In April 2017, Marinvest celebrated two of its vessels together attaining over 3,000 hours running on clean-burning methanol, and estimated that the use of methanol rather than conventional marine fuel had prevented more than 80,000 kilograms of sulfur oxide emissions. Results like this speak to the environmental benefits of using methanol as an alternative marine fuel by significantly reducing the emissions of sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

"Tests in blending water with methanol also show promising results in terms of meeting the International Maritime Organization's NOx Tier III requirements. Such a new Tier III solution could become a game-changer. Further tests are scheduled in the near future to conclude if this could be a new way forward," said Rene Sejer Laursen, sales and promotion manager, MAN Diesel & Turbo.

With the growing demand for cleaner marine fuel, methanol is a promising alternative marine fuel and helps the shipping industry meet increasingly strict emissions regulations with relatively minor and cost-effective modifications to existing vessels.

By Professional Mariner Staff