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Construction Begins on World’s First Ammonia Ready Tanker

First Suezmax tanker being built ready for ammonia fuel
Avin International's new tanker will be ammonia fuel ready (file photo)

Published Jan 19, 2021 2:40 PM by The Maritime Executive

Construction is beginning in China on a Suezmax tanker which has the potential to become the world’s first ammonia-fueled tanker. Order by Greece’s Avin International, an operator of chemical and oil tankers, the vessel is being built at New Times Shipbuilding Co., in Jingjiang, China following the ABS Ammonia Ready Level 1 requirements.

Michael Androulakakis, Technical Manager of Avin International explained the origins of the project pointing out that LNG fuel operations are not enough on their own for shipowners seeking to achieve early decarbonization of their fleet. Saying that ammonia currently appears to be one of the most widely available and promising carbon neutral fuels for the future, Arvin decided to invest in making its new vessel ready for ammonia fuel.

The tanker, which will have a length of approximately 900 feet, is being built to operate on conventional fuel. However, the design also complies with the ABS Ammonia Ready Level 1 requirements, indicating it is designed to be converted to run on ammonia in the future. It will also meet ABS LNG Fuel Ready Level 1 requirements to provide the shipowner with the widest options for the future.

“It is a challenging time for shipowners looking to invest in modern vessels able to support fleet decarbonization objectives throughout their life span,” said Patrick Ryan, ABS Senior Vice President, Global Engineering and Technology. “Ammonia is a promising zero-carbon fuel that can help meet the IMO’s GHG reduction target for 2050. It offers shipowners and operators a zero-carbon tank-to-wake emissions profile but is not without challenges, not the least of which is the greater prescriptive requirements for containment and equipment than most of the other alternative fuels under consideration.”

ABS developed a suite of industry guidance on alternative fuels including support for the development of ammonia as a marine fuel. ABS’ alternative fuel ready suite of guidance and qualification programs is designed to give owners the flexibility they need and help prepare for a future in which alternative fuels such as ammonia take a bigger role. 

By meeting the Ammonia Fuel Ready Level 1 parameters it indicates the vessel conforms to the requirements outlined in the ABS Guide for Gas and Other Low-Flashpoint Fuel Ready Vessels. 

Additional details, including the timing for the introduction of the tanker, were not announced. It however was noted that Avin has an option for two further vessels from NTS.