The bunkering industry is working to adapt to alternative fuels and prepare the infrastructure as ship owners and operators accelerate the pace of the adoption of methanol as a marine fuel. Maersk and others have commented that having the supply of methanol will be one of the biggest challenges for their pioneering vessels.
Analysts at DNV have estimated that methanol will overtake other existing fuel options such as liquified natural gas and become one of the first zero-carbon alternative fuels. They calculate in their Alternative Fuels Insights database that there are currently just 26 vessels in operation capable of using methanol as their primary fuel. However, the number is growing with Maersk scheduled to introduce its pioneering containership, a Scandinavia feeder, in just three months. DNV notes that four additional methanol-fueled this are due this year, but expects that the total will double in 2024 to 59 vessels and again in 2025 to 94 vessels. By 2028, current orders show that 127 methanol-fueled vessels will have been delivered.
Preparing for the new fuel, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges reported that the first methanol bunkering was completed yesterday at the port on June 1. They reported in a posting on social media that 475 metric tonnes of methanol were bunkered from barge Tamariva to Proman Stena Marine at SEA-invest's terminal in Antwerp.
“With this first, we are further building on our global position as a bunkering port by actively promoting and developing a clear framework for the use of alternative fuels, such as LNG, ammonia, hydrogen, and methanol. Becoming a multifuel port is our goal,” writes Antwerp-Bruges. They reported that currently six million metric tonnes of conventional fuels (such as low-sulfur oil or gas oil) are being bunkered at the port.
To the north in Scandinavia, Bunker One reported it has chartered a bunker vessel that will become the supplier's first methanol-ready bunker tanker. The company has started a new long-term charter of bunker tanker Nore, a 16-year old vessel registered in Malta. The 297-foot vessel will serve as a multi-fuel bunkering tanker with 3,500-ton storage, which can be split with different products among her tank pairs. They reported that the vessel received all bunkering permits and certifications for operating in Scandinavia and Northern Europe in May and becomes the fourth bunker tanker in Bunker One Sweden’s fleet.
“Gothenburg, Skaw, and the entire Scandinavian region is one of our most important bunkering hubs with significant vessel traffic passing through the area, so to start building the infrastructure and have it in place is going to send a strong signal to our customers that if they bet on building ships powered by carbon emissions reducing products, we will be ready to supply them,” said Peter Zachariassen, CEO of Bunker One.
The company notes that it has working hard to prepare the operation, securing the necessary certifications. “We’ve been working for some time, getting the landside infrastructure in place, chartering the tanker, and getting the licenses from the maritime authorities,” says Petter Jonason, Bunker One Sweden’s Chief Operating Officer.
Being ready to supply alternative products in Scandinavia marks a significant event for the rest of the maritime industry says Bunker One. With some shipping and logistics companies still in the planning phase of investing in new ships with alternative engine fuel, the company believes that the possibility of bunkering methanol is extremely valuable in terms of assisting them in their decision-making process.