Maersk’s Methanol Efforts Proceed with Bunkering in Singapore and US Plant

methanol bunkering
Maersk's new containership completed Singapore's first STS methanol bunkering operation (MPA)

Published Jul 27, 2023 9:23 PM by The Maritime Executive

Maersk continues to forge ahead with efforts to develop methanol as an alternative fuel to support the maritime industry’s transition. The shipping company is supporting the development of a large green methanol production facility in Central Louisiana while in Singapore they completed the port’s first-ever ship-to-ship methanol bunkering operation. With its maiden voyage underway, the first containership fueled by methanol is now a little over a month away from reaching Maersk’s headquarters in Copenhagen.

Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) is highlighting the unique bunkering operation and the preparation it undertook. Before the operation, extensive safety preparations were made, including tabletop exercises, workshops, and a ground deployment exercise involving various stakeholders and government agencies. The MPA highlights that it conducted a thorough risk and environmental impact assessment, reviewed global methanol-related incidents, and incorporated the use of drones, weather and tide forecasting, plume modeling, and monitoring to support the operation.

The 32,300 dwt containership built in South Korea which will be officially named Laura Maersk when it reaches Copenhagen, arrived in Singapore on July 26 from Shanghai. Working with Hong Lam Marine which received the green methanol from Vopak Terminals, the vessel was refueled with approximately 300 metric tonnes of bio-methanol from the bunker vessel MT Agility. The containership will depart Singapore for the more than 5,300 nautical mile voyage to the Suez Canal.

Laura Maersk methanol bunkering Singapore deck shot

Singapore undertook extensive preparations to ensure the safety of the bunkering operation (MPA)

As the voyage continues, Maersk also continues to build out its global supply network for the future fuel that will be required for its fleet of ocean-going methanol dual-fuel ships now on order as well as the other major carriers that have followed with orders for ships.

SunGas Renewables, a Louisiana-based company spun out of GTI Energy to focus on renewable syngas products announced plans to proceed with the construction of a large green methanol production facility that is expected to supply methanol to Maersk’s fleet. The company plans to invest approximately $2 billion to construct the project at the former International Paper facility in Rapides Parish, Louisiana. Construction is expected to begin in late 2024 with commercial operations commencing in 2027.

“Using biomass from sustainably managed forestry along with carbon capture allows our project to generate green marine shipping fuel while simultaneously removing carbon from the atmosphere,” explains Robert Rigdon, CEO of SunGas Renewables.

The project which will be called Beaver Lake Renewable Energy is expected to produce nearly 400,000 metric tons of green methanol per year for marine fuel. It will utilize wood fiber from local, sustainably-managed forests in the production of the fuel with a carbon sequestration process of nearly a million tons per year of CO2.

In late 2022, SunGas Renewables announced a strategic green methanol partnership with Maersk to produce green methanol from multiple facilities around the United States. The BLRE project is SunGas Renewable’s first facility to produce green methanol for Maersk.

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