Dutch Shortsea Shipping Company Joins Green-Methanol Rush

A2B container feeders
Courtesy A2B

Published Jun 13, 2023 12:58 AM by The Maritime Executive

A Dutch shortsea shipping company has signed on for the use of green methanol as a future fuel. A2B-online, an EU-to-UK logistics firm with its own small fleet, is building two new methanol dual-fuel feeders at a yard in Turkey. 

A2B provides shortsea services from Germany and the Benelux region to Britain, with a mix of trailer and containerized freight options. It operates seven small container ships, and when it came time to think about fleet replenishment, A2B-online reached out to Hamburg-based vessel design and engineering company Technolog Services. Together, they designed a feeder vessel with dual-fuel methanol propulsion to be ready for decarbonized operations when the time comes. 

A2B has ordered two ships to this design, and they are currently under construction at Sedef Shipyard in Turkey. 

"We want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to all of our customers, suppliers, shareholders and stakeholders for their support and loyalty. Without your trust in us, this achievement would not have been possible," said Dinant de Jong, CEO of A2B-online.

Methanol is an increasingly popular option for future-fuel-ready construction, and DNV has tallied up more than 80 boxships ordered with methanol features. Methanol is among the least difficult fuels to prepare to use later, and the technology to store and consume it on board is already well-proven. It has fewer technical complexities than pure hydrogen, and fewer toxicity issues than ammonia. 

Green methanol is not commercially available in quantity, and there are open questions about how far it can scale; to make it, producers will need to source two scarce inputs - green hydrogen and captured biogenic CO2, which are both in short supply. 

Maersk has decided solve this problem by creating its own supply chain for green methanol, signing offtake contracts with startup producers and global bunkering firms. OCI recently inked a new contract to provide specialty green methanol for the maiden voyage of Maersk's first methanol-powered feeder ship, which will sail to Denmark to begin its career in the Baltic this fall.