Methanol first as vessel launch revealed

Shipping giant Maersk (Maersk) has announced the first of its new breed of methanol-enabled vessels is to be launched and will begin operations early in the new year.

The vessels will be the first of its 18 large methanol-enabled vessels currently on order, with A.P. Moller – Maersk (Maersk) pledging all of the 24 vessels it currently has on order will be dual engine and will be able to operate on methanol.

“Deploying the first of our large methanol-enabled vessels on one of the world’s largest trade lanes, Asia – Europe, is a landmark in our journey towards our Net-Zero target. With the vessel’s capacity of 16,000 containers, this will make a significant impact in our customers’ efforts to decarbonise their supply chains, and we are looking forward to introducing more methanol-enabled vessels on this and other trades during 2024,” says Karsten Kildahl, chief commercial officer at Maersk.

The container vessel built by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) in South Korea has a nominal capacity of 16,000 containers (TEU) and is equipped with a dual-fuel engine enabling operations on methanol as well as biodiesel and conventional bunker fuel.

Ahead of its deployment, the vessel will be named at the shipyard at the end January 2024. The following two sister vessels will be deployed in the first half of 2024 with naming events taking place in Yokohama, Japan, and Los Angeles, USA. Maersk expects to take delivery of four additional sister vessels in the second half of 2024.

On 9 February 2024, it will enter service on the AE7 string connecting Asia and Europe, which includes port calls in Shanghai, Tanjung Pelepas, Colombo and Hamburg with Ningbo, China, being its first destination.

At the time of deployment of the first large vessel, it will be the only second container vessel in the world that can sail on green methanol, the first being the feeder vessel Laura Maersk which entered service in September this year.

Maersk said it has set a Net-Zero greenhouse gas emissions target for 2040 across the entire business and has also set “tangible and ambitious” near-term targets for 2030 to ensure significant progress. The company added it has secured sufficient green methanol to cover the vessel’s maiden voyage and continues to work diligently on 2024-25 sourcing solutions for its methanol-enabled vessel fleet.
Maersk revealed it currently has 24 container vessels on order, all of which vessels will be equipped with dual-fuel engines and will be able to operate on green methanol. Half of those vessels will have a capacity of 16,000 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit containers), six have a capacity of 17,000 TEU and the remaining vessels have a capacity of 9,000 TEU.
Maersk explained it defines “green fuels” as fuels with low to very low GHG emissions over their life cycle compared to fossil fuels.

“Different green fuels achieve different life cycle reductions depending on their production pathway,” it added. “By ‘low’ we refer to fuels with 65-80% life cycle GHG reductions compared to fossil fuels. This covers, for example, some biodiesels. ‘Very low’ refers to fuels with 80-95% life cycle GHG reductions compared to fossil fuels.”