Summer with methanol. Shipowners bunker methanol. Ports and maritime administration care about safety

By Marek Grzybowski

Maersk and Hong Lam Marine have successfully completed the world’s first methanol bunkering operation for a Maersk container ship at Raffles Reserved Anchorage, Singapore, the Port Authority of Singapore and Maersk announced at the end of July. But this is not the ship’s first methanol bunker. Stena Line and the Port of Gothenburg have paved the way. The Stena Germanica ferry rebuilt at the Remontowa shipyard has made a milestone in the use of methanol as a marine fuel.

The Stena Germanica Stena Line ferry was the world’s first non-tanker ship to be bunkered with methanol from a floating bunker.

“This is a door-opening action proving that there is a viable solution to dealing with ship methanol bunkering. This strengthens our position as a bunker hub and also shows other ports that this can be done in a safe and efficient way – not only here but also in other ports around the world,” said Christoffer Lillhage, Senior Business Development Manager Energy at Gothenburg Port Authority. after the STS bunkering operation.

He explained that “The key to success is working together across the entire value chain to find a pragmatic and safe approach to implementing methanol bunkering procedures. Ultimately, this will contribute to the industry’s goal of decarbonizing shipping in general.”

First, there were tankers on wheels

So far, Stena Germanica has only bunkered methanol from tank trucks. Similar operations in the case of LNG bunkering are already performed by the Port Authority of Gdynia and Gdańsk with the support of transport operators from the Gdańsk refinery.

Several entities collaborated throughout the process. The port of Gothenburg was the first in the world to develop operating procedures for methanol bunkering in April 2022. E&S Tankers, the operator of the methanol bunker, was entrusted with the execution of the bunkering operation. Methanol was supplied by methanol manufacturer and supplier Methanex Corporation.

“As the world’s largest producer and supplier of methanol, we are delighted to continue our partnership with Stena Line to demonstrate that methanol is a leading alternative [to marine fossil fuel – MG] and the marine fuel of the future,” said Karine Delbarre, Vice President, Global Marketing, Stena Line. marketing and logistics, Methanex.

“This first methanol bunkering of a non-tanker vessel, which was carried out with our partners E&S Tankers and the Port of Gothenburg, is further proof that methanol is available worldwide, safe to transport, store and handle using procedures similar to those in force bunkering of conventional seagoing ships, Delbarre emphasized.

“Stena Germanica, linking Gothenburg, Sweden, with Kiel, Germany, became the world’s first methanol-powered ferry when Stena Line converted a 240-metre long vessel in 2015 in partnership with Methanex, Wärtsilä, Port of Gothenburg and Port of Kiel,” she said. Maria Tornvall, Head of Sustainability at Stena Line.

It started in Remontowa

Let us recall that the power plant and engine of the Stena Germanica ferry (Stena Hollandica in the years 2001 – 2010) were rebuilt at the Remontowa shipyard in Gdańsk. The documentation was prepared by Remontowa Marine Design & Consulting. The first reconstruction of the ferry took place in 2010. At that time, maintenance repairs were made and a group of new living cabins was added on passenger decks 9 to 11.

The second reconstruction was carried out in 2015. The upgrade included converting the main propulsion system to methanol and installing all required auxiliary systems in accordance with IMO requirements.

At the time of the contract, the Stena Germanica (240 m long) was the world’s first methanol-powered ferry and the second largest Ro-Pax ferry. After modernization, the ferry was directed to the connection between Gothenburg and Kiel.

– We want to establish the port of Gothenburg as the main bunkering center for alternative marine fuels in northern Europe. Today we are one step closer to this goal and we are ready to accept more methanol-powered ships,” emphasized Christoffer Lillhage.

Antwerp on course

The Antwerp-Bruges Port Authority informed that on June 1 this year, the first bunkering of methanol was carried out. A social media post reported that 475 tonnes of methanol had been refueled from the Tamariva barge to the Proman Stena Marine at the SEA-Invest terminal in Antwerp. This is the first in a series of three MR dual-fuel tankers built by Proman Stena Bulk Ltd. It is a unit with a capacity of 49.9 thousand m3. The Stena Pro Patria was completed in June 2022 and will be joined in 2023 by two sister ships, Stena Pro Mare and Stena Prosperous.

“With this first [STS-MG bunkering], we are strengthening our global position as a bunkering port by actively promoting and developing transparent procedures for the use of alternative fuels such as LNG, ammonia, hydrogen and methanol. Our goal is a multi-fuel port, the Antwerp-Bruges Port Authority informs on social media. Currently, six million tonnes of marine fuels are bunkered in the port.

The Ports Authority of Antwerp-Bruges intends to be a multi-fuel port where, from 2025, sea and inland vessels will be able to bunker not only oil-based marine fuels, but also low-emission alternative fuels such as methanol, hydrogen. Electricity will be provided for ships with connections.

Methanol – a challenge for ports
Methanol is a challenge for ship builders as methanol tanks can be integrated into the hull structure, but require more deck space than LNG or heavy fuel oil (HFO) if they are to operate at the same distances as ships using marine fuel or tank gas LNG.
“In most current engines, methanol requires a pilot fuel for efficient combustion, so diesel must also be carried on board, also doubling as a reserve fuel,” the DNV expert points out.
Currently, there are 25 units in the world that can be powered by methanol. Order books amount to 81 units. In June this year Maersk has placed an order for six medium-sized container ships. They will be equipped with dual-fuel engines capable of running on green methanol.
Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Group will build six ships with a capacity of 9,000 tons TEUs to be delivered in 2026 and 2027. In 2021, Maersk ordered the world’s first methanol-powered container ship. By ordering another six ships, the Danish shipowner’s order book has now grown to 25 methanol-capable ships.
Ports accepting Maersk container ships, and thus also Polish ports, must therefore be prepared for bunkering with green methanol. Since LNG bunkering has already been mastered, it seems that there should be no problem in adapting the standards for methanol bunkering from the shore.
For bunkering in the STS system, it will probably be necessary to refer to the knowledge and experience of ports and operators who have already mastered bunkering in this system in the port and outer harbour.