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Maersk Orders Six More Methanol-Fueled Ships in Commitment to Net-Zero

Maersk methanol containerships
Maersk ordered six 9,000 TEU dual-fuel containerships (Image by Maric design)

Published Jun 26, 2023 1:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

Maersk is continuing with its commitment to the principle of only ordering newbuild vessels that can sail on green fuel consistent with its commitments to be net-zero by 2040. The company led the container shipping industry in 2021 with the first orders for dual-fuel methanol vessels and highlights the rapid growth in the orderbook for methanol-ready ships.

A.P. Moller - Maersk and China’s private shipyard Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Group confirmed the order of six dual-fuel methanol-ready containerships. Maersk is calling the vessels “mid-sized” as they will have a capacity of 9,000 TEU. The rendering shows a conventional design with two islands, unlike the new design for the company's larger methanol-fueled containerships.

“For these six container vessels, we have chosen a design and vessel size which make them very flexible from a deployment point of view. This will allow these vessels to fill many functions in both our current and our future network, thereby offering the flexibility our customers demand. Once phased in, they will replace existing capacity in our fleet,” says Rabab Boulos, Chief Infrastructure Officer at Maersk.

Yangzijiang reports the vessels will be domestically designed and built as the group’s entry into methanol-fueled vessels. Maersk reports the engines will be dual-fuel capable of operating on green methanol and will be delivered in 2026 and 2027. As with the pending order for the 24 methanol containerships being built in South Korea, Maersk reports these vessels will also replace existing capacity in the Maersk fleet as part of the planned energy transition. 

“With this order, we take another step in the green transformation of our fleet and towards our target of becoming net-zero in 2040,” said Boulos. He highlights that these replacement vessels will have the ability to reduce the company’s greenhouse gas emissions by 450,000 tons of CO2 per year when operating on green methanol.

Maersk will launch the methanol-fueled containership era later this summer with the delivery of its first vessel from South Korea. The 2,100 TEU feeder vessel is scheduled to make the more than 11,000 nautical mile delivery voyage to Copenhagen fueled entirely on green methanol. It will then enter service in the Baltic both as a demonstration ship and a learning experience for Maersk in the operation of methanol-fueled vessels. 

The Danish shipping company also has the first of its twelve 16,000 TEU ships containerships under construction expecting them to enter service starting in 2024. They followed that with an additional order for six 17,000 TEU dual-fuel ships. Maersk highlights it now has 25 containerships on order capable of operating on the green methanol out of a fleet that Alphaliner reports consist of 338 owned ships in service and a total of over 680 vessels. The company also announced a trial to convert the first in-service vessel to Methanol in a project with MAN. The contract calls for retrofits of the main engines for a total of 11 vessels.

Maersk continues to follow a different strategy than many of its piers. It is ordering smaller capacity vessels and so far exclusively with methanol. CMA CGM and MSC as well as others are looking to test the waters with methanol while investing in LNG-fueled vessels. It had been rumored that CMA CGM was pointed to place a large methanol-fueled vessel order but Yangzijiang Shipbuilding is reporting it just received an order for 10 LNG fueled 24,000 TEU vessels which are being linked to CMA CGM instead.

The methanol orderbook has grown rapidly in the past two years. DNV sets it at over 100 ships due for delivery by 2028. That includes 81 methanol-capable containerships on order.

For Yangzijiang the order continues a strong stream of contracts this year. So far in 2023, the yard reports a total of 69 vessels ordered worth $5.6 billion. They highlight that after six months they have already exceeded their 2023 order target of $3 billion. The yard says it has its largest-ever backlog with a total of 180 vessels ordered with a value of $14.6 billion.