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World’s First Barge Bunkering with Methanol Demonstrates Potential

first bage bunkering of methanol as marine fuel
Barge bunkering methanol in rotterdam (Waterfront Shipping)

Published May 12, 2021 5:31 PM by The Maritime Executive

The world’s first barge-to-ship methanol bunkering operation took place in the Port of Rotterdam demonstrating according to the participants the simplicity of methanol bunkering for the marine industry. While alternative fuels are being developed, one of the critical pieces is to also ensure that they can be safely transported and bunkered to ships to complete the full supply chain.

“Methanol is globally available and has similar storage needs to conventional fuels,” explained Dick Richelle, Commercial Director of Royal Vopak. “This demonstration proves that methanol bunkering is a safe and realistic option as a clean-burning fuel with a sustainable pathway.”

The 49,800 dwt product tanker Takaroa Sun was fueled during the operation in the Port of Rotterdam on May 11. The Singapore-flagged vessel is owned by NYK Bulkship (Asia) Pte. Ltd., a subsidiary of NYK, and operates on a long-term charter to Waterfront Shipping. Built in South Korea at Hyundai MIPO Dockyard in 2019, the vessel was constructed with a MAN Energy Solutions second-generation B&W ME-LGIM two-stroke dual-fuel engine that runs on both methanol and conventional marine fuel. The bunkering operation took place at the Vopak Terminal Botlek of Royal Vopak with a bunker barge, MTS Evidence, operated by TankMatch. 

“Bunkering with methanol requires a similar level of risk assessment and safety management as other conventional bunker fuels, and we found this process simple to manage and execute,” says Andre Nieman, Chief Executive Officer of TankMatch.

All the companies involved in the bunkering demonstration said that they believed it provided further evidence of methanol as a low emission, safe, and simple to handle clean fuel that offers a future-proof pathway to a low-carbon future. Liquid at ambient temperature and miscible in water, methanol produces up to 15 percent lower carbon emissions during combustion than traditional fuel oil and is MARPOL Annex VI compliant for SOx emissions, particulate matter, and Tier III NOx emissions.

“Waterfront Shipping has been operating methanol-fueled ships for over five years now, accumulating over 100,000 combined operating hours—and has been bunkering methanol for its methanol dual-fueled vessels via cargo shore pipelines near Methanex’s production facilities,” said Paul Hexter, President of Waterfront Shipping. “When appropriate safety measures are followed, we know that methanol is safe to ship, store, handle and bunker using procedures similar to conventional fuels. Today’s methanol bunkering demonstration is another step in helping the shipping industry with its journey to reduce emissions.”

Waterfront Shipping, a subsidiary of Methanex Corporation, shares with its parent company a commitment to demonstrating leadership in the use of lower-emission methanol as a marine fuel. The company recently ordered an additional eight methanol-fueled vessels to be delivered between 2021 and 2023. With this latest order, approximately 60 percent of its 30-ship fleet will be powered by lower emission, methanol dual-fuel technology.