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EPS, OCI, and MAN partner to develop methanol and ammonia as marine fuels

Singapore-headed Eastern Pacific Shipping Pte Ltd (EPS) has announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Netherlands-headed OCI N.V. (OCI), a leading global producer and distributor of nitrogen and methanol products, and Germany-headed MAN Energy Solutions SE (MAN) to develop methanol and ammonia as marine fuels to aide in industry-wide decarbonization and environmental preservation efforts.

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In October 2020, EPS conducted its first bunkering of biofuels (photo courtesy EPS).

The partnership is an example of different industry players with aligned values coming together to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

EPS is proud to partner with industry leaders OCI and MAN with a shared vision to push our industry towards decarbonization and environmental preservation. As a leading tonnage provider, EPS has taken a firm stance that sustainability begins with accountability. This means we have a responsibility to implement emission-lowering solutions available today while simultaneously developing solutions for tomorrow, said Cyril Ducau, CEO of EPS.

The partnership involves using select conventional vessels from EPS’ existing tanker fleet that already use MAN engines to be retrofitted, allowing them to be powered by methanol and ammonia which will be supplied by OCI.

Converting our existing conventional fleet to burn methanol creates a unique opportunity to continue lowering our carbon footprint significantly and rapidly. In the meantime, developing ammonia-fuelled conversion and newbuilding projects will help develop more mature zero-carbon solutions in the longer-term. We are excited about the next steps and to share our findings with the industry, said Cyril Ducau.

The announcement is in line with EPS’ agnostic approach to its alternative marine fuel program. Furthermore, OCI intends to charter the first retrofitted vessel from EPS.

Methanol and ammonia are the fuels of the future and we are excited to continue to play a part in the transition to zero-carbon through this partnership. The use of ammonia or methanol as a shipping fuel is particularly promising as these products are among the best-placed alternatives to help this sector decarbonize in a cost-effective way. We are confident that, in addition to the exciting developments on new-builds, existing vessels can economically convert their engines to use our low-carbon products and help the industry meet its goals, commented Ahmed El-Hoshy, CEO of OCI.

The MoU is also an example of not letting “perfect be the enemy of good”, as the technology to retrofit vessels to run on methanol exists today while using methanol and ammonia on newbuilds is still a few years away.

We see this as starting with the adoption of grey/blue methanol and ammonia and then shifting to green as production costs come down, customer appetites move towards green and regulations continue to develop. Our products are perfectly positioned to fuel the transition and we believe the push towards low carbon fuels in the coming years will be met with the adoption of both methanol and ammonia as industry-standard fuels on a grey, blue and green basis. We are therefore pleased that we have signed this agreement with a leading tonnage provider in the shipping industry and the leading engine manufacturer, bringing together a comprehensive representation of the maritime value chain, said Ahmed El-Hoshy.

The technology to retrofit a vessel to accept methanol as a fuel is available today and the intention is for OCI to charter the first retrofitted methanol-fueled vessel operated by EPS using already in-service MAN engines and technology in the next two years.

For us, the path to decarbonizing the maritime industry starts with fuel decarbonization. Happily, the flexibility of the ME-C engine enables us to retrofit the existing fleet into methanol-fueled vessels that have a significantly reduced environmental impact. We look forward to moving with our industry partners towards these sustainable goals, said Jens Seeberg, Head of Retrofit & Upgrade at MAN PrimeServ Denmark.

Also, EPS will construct newbuild vessels with MAN engines powered by the same two alternative marine fuels.

We view these initiatives as closely aligned with our own strategy of cooperating with external partners to develop sustainable technologies. Methanol and ammonia are very interesting candidates for zero-carbon fuels. In fact, we have already introduced a methanol-burning two-stroke engine, while we expect to deliver the first ammonia-fueled engine in 2024. MAN Energy Solutions is fully committed to the maritime energy transition and the development of technology that exploits alternative, clean fuels, said Brian Østergaard Sørensen, VP and Head of R&D, Two-Stroke Business at MAN Energy Solutions.

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