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Stolt Tankers is Latest Shipping Company to Test Biofuels 

biofuel test on a product tanker
Stolt Inspiration at the Houston terminal on a prior voyage (Stolt Tankers)

Published Apr 6, 2021 6:18 PM by The Maritime Executive

Marine biofuel is one of the products that is drawing the attention of the shipping lines as an alternative that is currently available to help them achieve their sustainability goals. Stolt Tankers, which operates a fleet of 152 chemical tankers transporting bulk liquid chemicals, edible oils, acids, and clean petroleum products, announced it will become the latest line to test marine biofuel on one of its vessels.

The trial will take place on the 37,000 DWT chemical tanker Stolt Inspiration as she travels from Rotterdam, the Netherlands to Houston, Texas. The vessel will use marine biofuel produced by GoodFuels from sustainable and certified feedstocks.

“I am excited to see the results of the trial,” said Lucas Vos, President Stolt Tankers. “This is just one of the areas that we are exploring as the industry moves towards a carbon-neutral future. We are committed to working with other leaders to explore innovative technologies including biofuels, hydrogen, wind, ammonia, and methanol, to reduce our environmental footprint.”

The trial is designed to assess the viability of the future use of biofuels in both engines and boilers, and will test the fuel’s impact on consumption, power and reliability. The ship’s management team and crew on board will manage the trial to ensure complete operational safety and optimal performance.

Bunkering for the trial was completed at the end of last week at the Port of Rotterdam, where the Stolt Inspiration received the biofuel which is derived from feedstocks such as used cooking oil, tallow, and waste animal fats. The biofuel used is functionally equal to petroleum-derived marine fuels, and no modifications to the engine or the fuel infrastructure were required.

According to the companies, the fuel has the potential to deliver a well-to-exhaust CO2 reduction of between 80 and 90 percent compared to fossil fuel equivalents. 

The shipping industry has been increasingly testing biofuels with several shipping companies reporting positive results operating ships on the alternative fuel. In March 2020, Stena Bulk operated one of the first high visibility trials with GoodFuels of 100 percent biofuel. The success of the trials led to Stena Bulk introducing biofuel as an alternative in a low carbon program for its customers. Among the other companies that tested biofuel, both Eastern Pacific and Ocean Network Express (ONE) ran trails late in 2020. Later at an IMO Symposium on alternative low-carbon and zero-carbon fuels, Cyril Ducau the CEO of Eastern Pacific detailed the test including the preparations and results on his company’s vessel.

Short-sea ro-ro operator UECC recently reported the results after a year of operation on biofuel aboard its car carrier the Autosky. UECC reported it was able to reduce carbon intensity by more than half.

Other shipping lines including MSC and CMA CGM have also been testing biofuel blends as an interim step to reduce their carbon emissions.