Methanol as a future marine fuel is now gaining traction, said experts in Riviera Maritime Media’s Marine Fuels: Methanol webinar
Discussing the advantages of investing in methanol as a marine fuel for tankers and dry cargo ships as a way of future-proofing fleets, presenters explored whether the infrastructure was in place to ramp up methanol production, bunkering availability and engine supply from OEMs. Energy density, cost of supply versus marine gasoil and safety aspects were also covered.
This webinar, which was part of Riviera’s Marine Fuels Webinar Week, was co-hosted by Methanol Institute chief operating officer in Singapore Chris Chatterton. He was joined by Methanol manufacturer SABIC’s senior business manager John Livorness, Proman managing director for marketing and logistics Anita Gajadhar and MAN Energy Solutions director of new technologies and two-stroke promotion Kjeld Aabo.
Mr Chatterton opened with the arguments for adopting methanol as a marine fuel, noting the fuel’s high availability and increasing use in different industries.
“Methanol is price competitive to marine gasoil,” he said. “Bunkering is simplified and needs minimum investment.”
Mr Chatterton said there are 11 ships trading with methanol as fuel and another nine ships being built at shipyards, while regulatory authorities and class are underway on the provision of rules and guidance.
Approval of methanol within IMO’s International Code of Safety for Ship Using Gases or Other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code) has been delayed by coronavirus, but Mr Chatterton expects IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) to approve draft IGF Code revisions either in Q4 2020 or Q1 2021.
Lloyd’s Register will produce best practice guidelines for handling and bunkering methanol later this year, he said.
Following Mr Chatterton, Mr Livorness offered insight from one of the major methanol refiners, with SABIC producing 6M tonnes of the petrochemical feedstock.
“Methanol is proven and works effectively and efficiently as a ship fuel today and in the future,” he said.
“We will see more investment in infrastructure, bunkers and supply chains.”
Mr Livorness exlpained that methanol is already being considered to fuel fishing vessels and inland barges, particularly in China.
In her presentation, Ms Gajadhar discussed Proman and Stena Bulk’s joint order for two methanol-fuelled chemical tankers which are set for delivery in 2022. The first of these, Stena Pro Patria, will have two MAN engines and consume around 40-46 tonnes/day of methanol fuel.
“Methanol is a clean fuel and is a good alternative to meet IMO’s carbon emissions targets,” Ms Gajadhar said. “It is cost competitive and sometimes the price is lower than marine gasoil.”
Speaking to methanol’s operational reliability and regulatory compliance levels, MAN’s Mr Aabo said his company’s ME-LGIM methanol burning dual-fuel engine has accumulated 65,000 operating hours in ships so far with no major issues. He explained these engines automatically meet IMO Tier II emissions requirements and that the fuel can be blended with water to reduce NOx further to allow for compliance with Tier III requirements.
“When compared with other engines, it has a simpler dual-fuel supply system,” he said.
Mr Aabo also said he anticipates more owners of medium range tankers and medium-sized container ships will consider methanol as a viable fuel.
“Methanol is a very good solution and there is huge interest as we need to look for future fuels,” he said.
Many of the webinar attendees agreed that there would be a future for methanol as a marine fuel. Nearly half, (47%) said they strongly agreed they could future-proof their fleet by running ships on methanol. Some 33% remained undecided, while 12% disagreed and 8% strongly disagreed.
However, attendees felt challenges remain for the industry to overcome before methanol as a marine fuel is adopted more widely.
Of the issues that need clarifying, 36% of the audience thought clarity on regulation was most needed. Some 26% said pricing options, 19% said bunkering and another 19% thought design topics needed clarifying.
When asked about the single biggest challenges to using methanol as a marine fuel, 36% said availability of bunkers, 30% said pricing, 18% said safety and 16% emissions.
Attendees were then asked where those championing methanol as a marine fuel need to prioritise, 56% said building infrastructure, another 27% said regulations and 17% thought pricing.
You can view the webinar, in full, in our webinar library.
And you can sign up to attend upcoming webinars on our events page
Panellists (left to right): Methanol Institute chief operating officer in Singapore Chris Chatterton, Proman managing director for marketing and logistics Anita Gajadhar, MAN Energy Solutions director of new technologies and two-stroke promotion Kjeld Aabo and SABIC senior business manager John Livorness