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Wärtsilä and Eidesvik Offshore partner in world’s first ammonia conversion project

Finland-headed marine and energy engineering major Wärtsilä Oyj and Norwegian ship owner Eidesvik Offshore ASA have signed a "landmark" cooperation agreement that aims to convert an offshore supply vessel (OSV) to operate with an ammonia-fuelled combustion engine with required fuel supply and safety system. This project is set to be a world first-of-its-kind and has a provisional completion target by the end of 2023.

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Wärtsilä Oyj and Eidesvik Offshore ASA have signed a “landmark” cooperation agreement that aims to convert an offshore supply vessel (OSV) to operate with an ammonia-fuelled combustion engine with required fuel supply and safety system. Wärtsilä and Eidesvik personnel leading the ammonia conversion project are Jan Lodden (left) COO, Eidesvik Offshore; Hans-Petter Nesse, Managing Director, Wärtsilä Norway; Gitte Gard Talmo, CCO, Eidesvik Offshore and Cato Esperø, Head of Sales, Wärtsilä Norway (photo courtesy Wärtsilä).

The OSV considered for a retrofit currently has Wärtsilä dual-fuel engines operating primarily with liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel. The conversion will enable the vessel to operate on a 70 percent ammonia blend.

Wärtsilä has already successfully laboratory tested an engine fuelled with a 70 percent ammonia blend. The ultimate goal is to achieve operation with 100 percent ammonia and with a minimum ignition fuel requirement.

As a fuel, ammonia has the potential to dramatically reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2). Both Wärtsilä and Eidesvik have stated their commitment to supporting the industry’s efforts to decarbonize its operations.

Using ammonia as a fuel is seen as a key future contributor to shipping’s energy transition, and we’re excited to be the first offshore shipowner taking this step. This project is yet another confirmation of our strong reputation as a pioneer in implementing new environmental technologies in both newbuilds and the existing fleet, said Jan Fredrik Meling, President and CEO at Eidesvik.

Eidesvik has a strong track record in supporting sustainable innovations, having used LNG fuel in its fleet from as early as 2003, and fuel cells from 2006. The company believes that to achieve the industry’s decarbonization targets, not only newbuilds will need to have the appropriate technologies but existing vessels must also be retrofitted accordingly.

Furthermore, prolonging the life of existing assets requires less capital and is less energy-intensive than building new ones.

Collaborating with Eidesvik on this groundbreaking project is an exciting and important step towards carbon-free shipping. Naturally, we are also working with classification societies on measures to ensure safe and environmentally sustainable use. We are already well advanced in the development of ammonia as a viable marine fuel and are actively working on other future carbon-free fuels as well. Our strong in-house competencies are very much being utilized to support our commitment to decarbonizing shipping, said Hans Petter Nesse, Managing Director of Wärtsilä Norway.

Wärtsilä and Eidesvik are also partners in the EU-funded ShipFC project to equip a platform supply vessel, the ‘Viking Energy’ with a 2 MW fuel cell running on green ammonia. The installation is scheduled for late 2023.

This ammonia conversion project also ties in with one of the ongoing workstreams of the Wärtsilä-led Zero Emissions Energy Distribution at Sea (ZEEDS) project, aimed at developing ammonia-powered newbuilds and converting suitable existing vessels.

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