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Equinor and Maersk partner to ensure methanol supply

Equinor and Maersk partner to ensure methanol supply
Maersk's new methanol-powered 2,100 TEU container feeder vessel bunkering methanol on its maiden voyage from South Korea to Denmark where it will be officially named on September 14, 2023 (photo courtesy Maersk). 

Denmark-headed global container shipping and integrated logistics major A.P. Moller - Maersk (Maersk) and Norway-headed oil, gas, and energy major Equinor ASA have signed an agreement securing the supply of green methanol for Maersk’s landmark, new methanol-enabled feeder vessel during its initial months of operation from September 2023 and into the first half of 2024.

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The agreement ensures green methanol supply for the ship from its entry into operation on a loop from Northern Europe into the Baltic Sea after the name-giving ceremony due to take place on September 14, 2023, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The green methanol will be bunkered in the Port of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Equinor is pleased to be partnering up with Maersk in delivering greener fuels to the marine industry. Equinor is an established player in the European methanol market through its production plant at Tjeldbergodden and we have ambitions to be a key provider of green methanol in the marine fuel segment, said Alex Grant, SVP for the liquid commodity segment at Equinor.

Biomethane to green methanol

The green methanol is produced from biogas from manure. The biogas is upgraded to biomethane aka renewable natural gas – RNG) and injected into the existing gas grid and the methanol is produced from the biomethane in the grid on a mass-balance basis.

The existing European biogas certificate system is used to trace the attributes of the biomethane to the biomethanol and safeguard against double-claims. This way, green methanol can be produced in existing facilities using existing infrastructure and plants enabling a quick route to market.

The method can contribute to a greener gas grid while capturing harmful methane emissions that would arise from the manure if left unprocessed. The biomethanol is ISCC EU certified in accordance with the EU Renewable Energy Directive.

We are very pleased to partner with Equinor, as it’s entering this business area. It is critical to get energy majors to the table and start supplying future fuels at scale. This is the form of engagement we need to continue accelerating the pioneering journey towards a green fuel economy for global shipping. With more than 100 methanol-enabled vessels on order across the industry, the demand for green fuel production is rising and will continue to do so in the years to come, said Rabab Boulos, Chief Infrastructure Officer at A.P. Moller – Maersk.

Long term, the feeder vessel will be fueled by e-methanol from a plant in Southern Denmark, operated by European Energy A/S, which is expected to come on-stream in the first half of 2024.

Aligned with the 2040 target

Maersk has an ambitious 2040 target of net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and aims to transport a minimum of 25 percent of ocean cargo using green fuels by 2030.

’Green fuels’ are defined by the company as fuels with “low to very low” GHG emissions over their life cycle compared to fossil fuels. ‘Low’ are fuels with 65-80 percent life cycle GHG reductions compared to fossil fuels while ‘very low’ refers to fuels with 80-95 percent life cycle GHG reductions compared to fossil fuels.

The 2,100 TEU (twenty-foot-equivalent) feeder vessel is an important step toward the long-term objective of gradually renewing the entire Maersk fleet to operate solely on green fuels.

Maersk has 24 additional methanol vessels on order for delivery between 2024 and 2027 and has a policy to only order new, owned vessels that come with a green fuel option.

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