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Green Methanol Supply Set for MV of Maersk’s First Methanol Boxship

bio-methanol maiden voyage
OCI will supply bio-methanol for the 11,500 voyage of the first methanol-fueled containership (Maersk)

Published Jun 12, 2023 7:53 PM by The Maritime Executive

Maersk and fuel supplier OCI Global reached an exclusive agreement for the supply of green methanol to fuel the delivery voyage of the company’s first methanol-fueled containership. The trip is being hailed as a milestone in decarbonization as the ship completes a voyage estimated at more than 11,500 nautical miles from the shipyard in South Korea through the Suez Canal and on to Denmark for its official naming ceremony in September.

The vessel, which is viewed as a trailblazer introducing the era of methanol-fueled containerships, was first discussed publicly by Maersk in February 2021 and ordered from South Korea’s Hyundai Mipo Dockyard in July 2021. Details about the vessel known currently as newbuilding Project Solstice, including its official name, remain closely guarded secrets. So far, the company has only provided a few basic details saying that it would be a feeder ship to operate on its routes in the Baltic. It is 564 feet long with a 105-foot beam with a nominal capacity of 2,100 TEU including 400 reefer plugs.

The renderings show that it is a conventional design with an aft deckhouse for navigation and the accommodation block. The methanol tank, unlike some LNG tanks, is below deck. One visible feature from the rendering is boxes labeled “shore power” which appear to give the vessel cold ironing capability. Also, Maersk is evolving its livery and branding to highlight the vessel’s pioneering role. Painted on the hull is the slogan “All The Way to Zero.” 

The vessel was floated out at the shipyard on April 4. Propulsion for the ship is a MAN 6G50-LGIM main engine and methanol capable gensets that were being developed in a partnership between MAN Energy Solutions and Hyundai Engine and Machinery for the main engine and Himsen for the auxiliary engine. Maersk reports the vessel has a designed speed of 17.4 knots.

To celebrate the world’s first container vessel sailing on green methanol, Maersk highlights that it will host a week of public festivities in Copenhagen. Included in this will be the official naming ceremony on September 14 with Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, acting as godmother to the ship.

OCI highlights several challenges in executing the voyage. The fuel supplier is obtaining the approvals and permits required to commercially bunker methanol in several ports, including Port of Rotterdam on the ship's voyage. They have secured a supply of ISCC-certified bio-methanol to power the maiden voyage.

Reuters is quoting Morten Bo Christiansen, Head of Energy Transition at Maersk as saying the company had not expected to be able to secure a maiden voyage on green methanol for this vessel. They are reporting the bio-methane will come from a plant in the United States and will be made from decomposing organic landfill waste.

This voyage is also being viewed as an important milestone in the expansion of OCI's renewable and low-carbon fuels business, as part of the effort to build a global bunkering infrastructure for methanol. In February, OCI announced a project with Unibarge to retrofit the first methanol-powered bunker barge, to be deployed at the Port of Rotterdam. OCI reports it anticipates incremental global demand for methanol at four million tons per year in the next five years, based on current orders from the marine sector.

Maersk looks to continue to lead the industry’s transition to methanol. The company has orders for 18 larger (16,000 and 17,000 TEU) dual-fuel ships also being built by Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea. They are due for delivery in 2024 and 2025 as part of the 81 methanol-fueled containerships that DNV calculates are now on order.