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Waterfront Shipping conducts world's first ‘barge-to-ship’ methanol bunkering

In the Netherlands, Waterfront Shipping Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Methanex Corporation (Methanex), the world's largest producer and supplier of methanol, has demonstrated the ease of ‘barge-to-ship’ bunkering as part of the launch of the world’s first barge-to-ship methanol bunkering operation at the Port of Rotterdam.

In the Netherlands, Waterfront Shipping has demonstrated the ease of ‘barge-to-ship’ bunkering as part of the launch of the world’s first barge-to-ship methanol bunkering operation that took place on May 11, 2021, the Vopak Terminal Botlek in the Port of Rotterdam with a bunker barge, “MTS Evidence,” operated by TankMatch bunkered “Takaroa Sun,” a long-term chartered vessel owned by NYK Bulkship (photo courtesy Methanex).

Waterfront Shipping’s “Takaroa Sun”—a long-term chartered vessel owned by NYK Bulkship (Asia) Pte. Ltd., a subsidiary of Japan-headed shipping major Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK)—which was accorded special mention for Green Ship of the Year, participated in the operation as the inaugural methanol-powered ship to be fuelled by a commercial bunker barge.

The premiere bunkering operation took place on May 11, 2021, at the Vopak Terminal Botlek of Royal Vopak with a bunker barge, “MTS Evidence,” operated by TankMatch.

We are increasingly hearing from vessel operators who want to understand their options for lowering their emissions and want a simple path to IMO compliance. Bunkering with methanol requires a similar level of risk assessment and safety management as other conventional bunker fuels and we found this process simple to manage and execute, said Andre Nieman, CEO of TankMatch

The Port of Rotterdam is the largest seaport in Europe with approximately 30 000 visiting seagoing vessels and 100 000 inland vessels per year.

The Port of Rotterdam fully supports initiatives to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and promotes sustainability for ships calling here and in other ports. Methanol has proven itself able to meet our very stringent safety standards and can play an important role in meeting the lower emission goals, said Allard Castelein, CEO Port of Rotterdam Authority.

The bunkering demonstration provided further evidence of methanol as a low emission, safe, and simple to handle clean fuel that offers a future-proof pathway to a low-carbon future.

Liquid at ambient temperature and miscible in water, methanol produces up to 15 percent lower carbon emissions during combustion than traditional fuel oil and is MARPOL Annex VI compliant for SOx emissions, particulate matter (PM), and Tier III NOx emissions.

As shipowners begin to engage in the energy transition, the Vopak terminals have the capabilities and experience to also work with operators of methanol-fuelled vessels and meet their specific requirements. Methanol is globally available and has similar storage needs to conventional fuels. This demonstration proves that methanol bunkering is a safe and realistic option as a clean-burning fuel with a sustainable pathway, said Dick Richelle, Commercial Director of Royal Vopak.

Methanex is committed to demonstrating ongoing leadership in the use of lower-emission methanol as a marine fuel. Waterfront Shipping recently ordered an additional eight methanol-fuelled vessels to be delivered between 2021 and 2023—with this latest order, approximately 60 percent of its 30-ship fleet will be powered by lower emission, methanol dual-fuel technology.

Waterfront Shipping has been operating methanol-fuelled ships for over five years now, accumulating over 100 000 combined operating hours—and has been bunkering methanol for its methanol dual-fuelled vessels via cargo shore pipelines near Methanex’s production facilities. When appropriate safety measures are followed, we know that methanol is safe to ship, store, handle and bunker using procedures similar to conventional fuels. Today’s methanol bunkering demonstration is another step in helping the shipping industry with its journey to reduce emissions, said Paul Hexter, President of Waterfront Shipping.

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