Bio-Methanol voyage opens way for net zero shipping

The first ever net-zero voyage using bio-methanol has been successfully completed with the success hailed as a blueprint for the future of global shipping.

Methanex Corporation (Methanex) and Japanese shipping giant Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, (MOL) operated the dual-fuel vessel, Cajun Sun, citing the voyage from the US to Europe as an example of how Methanex and MOL are collaborating to demonstrate the viability of methanol as a marine fuel with a pathway to net-zero emissions.

The Cajun Sun, operated by Methanex’s subsidiary Waterfront Shipping and chartered from MOL, departed from Geismar, in the US on 17 January and arrived in Antwerp, Belgium on 4 February. By blending ISCC-certified bio-methanol that has negative carbon intensity with natural gas-based methanol, net-zero greenhouse gas emissions on a lifecycle basis were achieved for the 18-day trans-Atlantic voyage.

“This innovative fuel solution offers shipping companies the ability to achieve net-zero carbon emissions today, supporting the industry’s transition to a low-carbon future,” The two companies said in a statement.

“We’re proud to bring the marine industry a tangible solution to transition towards net-zero emissions through our blended methanol product using bio-methanol produced from renewable natural gas at our facility in Geismar, US,” said Mark Allard, Methanex’s senior vice President, Low Carbon Solutions. “As the world’s largest methanol producer, we are establishing a network of relationships with leading renewable natural gas suppliers and assessing other pathways, including carbon capture and storage and e-methanol, to provide solutions for the marine industry and other customers.”

The use of methanol as an alternative marine fuel was pioneered by Waterfront Shipping in 2016 when Methanex, Waterfront Shipping and MOL, in conjunction with other key partners, jointly built the world’s first ocean-going methanol dual-fuel tanker, “Taranaki Sun.”

Waterfront Shipping, a subsidiary of Methanex Corporation, is a global marine transportation company specialising in the safe, responsible, and reliable transport of bulk chemicals and clean petroleum products to major international markets in North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, and Latin America. The company operates the world’s largest methanol ocean tanker fleet with 19 of its 30 vessels equipped to use the fuel.

“We’re pleased to complete the net-zero voyage by utilising bio-methanol. This is another example of what we can collectively accomplish in our long-term partnership with Methanex and Waterfront Shipping that was solidified in early 2022 when we purchased a 40 per cent interest in Waterfront Shipping,” said Kazuhiro Takahashi, MOL’s executive officer responsible for Bunker Business Division. “MOL, as a pioneering shipping company, is committed to reducing the environmental impact of the shipping sector. The use of methanol, which can be readily adopted today, is one of the very promising alternative fuels. We are also contributing to various stages of supply chain through the development and usage of alternative fuels in the global shipping industry.”

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