Partnership Approach Speeds Decarbonization Investments

methanol-fueled feeder containership
Unifeeder will operate four methanol-fueled feeders on long-term charters (Unifeeder)

Published Feb 19, 2024 8:04 PM by The Maritime Executive


Using a partnership approach to build out the European feeder network, Unifeeder is working with German-based ship-owning group Elbdeich Reederei and Norwegian shipowner MPC Container Ships to add two more methanol-powered ships to its European network. The agreement aligns with each of the companies’ strategies to accelerate decarbonization and meet emerging regulations.

The latest agreement will add two ships to Unifeeder’s network doubling its fleet of methanol-powered containerships to four. The company initially stuck a deal in October 2023 for two vessels to be built and owned by Elbdeich Reederei and chartered to the company. Now each of the shipowners will build one further vessel each with a capacity of 1,250 TEU. 

Due to delivery in 2026, Unifeeder will take the ships under long-term charter from each owner.  The company, which is part of DP World Marine Services, highlights that the four vessels are part of its overall strategy for a 25 percent reduction in emissions by 2030 and to reach net-zero by 2050. The four methanol-fueled feeders will play a key part with Unifeeder highlighting that it will also be increasing its utilization of biofuels in its conventional vessels. The company operates more than 150 vessels, moving more than 5.5 million containers annually.

MPC Container Ships highlights that by working with partners it is able to move forward with its comprehensive retrofit program in 2024 as part of an overall fleet renewal. By striking the joint investment agreement with Unifeeder and a seven-year time-charter agreement, they were able to significantly mitigate residual value risks while moving forward with decarbonization investments while protecting long-term shareholder value.

The company notes it is taking a similar approach with various charter customers. Under the agreements, MPC and its charterers share the cost of the retrofit investments followed by an extension of the vessel’s time-charter contract. 

MPC Container Ships, which specializes in small to mid-size vessels, notes this collaborative effort reduces open charter positions, increases contract coverage, and enhances the overall efficiency of the fleet. The company currently has a fleet of 65 vessels with a capacity of 138,000 TEU.