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X-Press Feeders to Launch First Green Feeder Network in the Baltic

methanol-fueled feeder containerships
X-Press Feeders' first methanol vessels outfitting in China (X-Press Feeders)

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

 

Details were announced on the industry’s first green feeder network which Singapore-based X-Press Feeders plans to launch starting in 2024 in the Baltic. The company, which operates more than 100 vessels, is preparing for the delivery of its new fleet of 14 dual-fuel vessels that will begin entering service next year and provide the basis for the green feeder operation.

X-Press Feeder is building the 14 ships at Sumec’s Yangzhou New Dayang Shipbuilding Company located in Shanghai, China. Designed by German naval architects TECHNOLOG Services, the vessels use MAN’s 5S50ME dual-fuel engine designed to operate on green methanol. 

“A key challenge with using green methanol, or any sustainable fuel for that matter, is it is in relatively small supply,” says Francis Goh, Chief Operating Officer of X-Press Feeders. “But as a feeder operator, where our ships tend to operate on short sea routes within a relatively small geography, the quantities of bio-methanol available are sufficient for our dual-fuel vessels to run ‘closed loop’ services, where about 95 percent of the entire round voyage can be powered by methanol, with a resupply of fuel at the bunkering port after every voyage.”

 

 

X-Press Feeders will introduce the operation with its first vessel, Eco Maestro (13,900 dwt), which will be delivered in the first quarter of 2024. The vessel will be based in the Port of Rotterdam operating to ports in Scandinavia and the Baltic states. The ships will carry approximately 1,200 TEU.

Before she reaches Rotterdam, the new Eco Maestro will undertake her maiden voyage from Shanghai to Rotterdam via the Suez Canal. Following a similar model to Maersk which showcased the delivery of its first methanol containership, Laura Maersk, in the summer with an entire green methanol-fueled positioning trip, X-Press Feeders also plans to operate the nearly 10,000 nautical mile trip entirely on bio-methanol. However, X-Press Feeders notes that while it is committed to using green methanol, the availability and distribution of methanol at ports on a global scale still poses a challenge.

“We see this maiden voyage as a way to promote sustainable shipping globally and highlight to the global community how the shipping industry is working to play its part in helping to reduce CO2e emissions,” says Goh. “We aim to power Eco Maestro with green methanol for the entire journey from Shanghai to Rotterdam but certain ports en route have no infrastructure at present to supply methanol to ships, so we are engaging them to make it possible.”

 

 

Once the vessel arrives in Northern Europe, X-Press Feeders highlights that it has already signed a contract with Dutch fuel supplier OCI Global for the supply of green methanol at the Port of Rotterdam starting in 2024.

In addition to being the first to employ the new MAN engine, the vessels feature several other design features to improve efficiency. They adopt a unique design called open-top which significantly lowers the center of gravity and increases the number of containers that can be loaded. Each of the ships will be 485 feet (148 meters) in length. They will have a design speed of 14 knots and are equipped with energy-saving devices such as shaft generators, adjustable propellers, and underhung flap rudders. They also have a single-person control bridge, an electronic chart automatic navigation system, and a track-keeping system, which the shipyard highlights as enhancing automation and the efficiency of the vessel.

The Eco Maestro will be followed by sister ships including the Eco Marin. To highlight the green nature of the vessels their livery includes the wording “The Green Feeder Carrier of Choice” on the full. Delivery of the class of ships is due to be completed in mid-2026.