Methanol as marine fuel has the potential to address both the IMO’s 0.5% global marine fuels sulfur limit and soon to be followed CO2 emissions compliance regulations, according to a meeting in Dubai organised by IMarEST’s UAE branch.
Seven maritime industry leaders and experts outlined their strategies and shared their views on how the marine fuels landscape will shift in 2020 and possible solutions available, to IMarEST UAE branch-Sea Commerce Consulting organised seminar sponsored by Fedcom and the Methanol Institute.
Nikeel Idnani, IMarEST UAE Branch honorary secretary, set the scene by emphasising that shipping companies will have to explore fuel options or exhaust emission abatement technologies to overcome the IMO’s low sulfur cap.
Capt Saleem Alavi, Sea Commerce Consulting president, a multi-disciplinary consulting & service provider, in his keynote presentation – ‘Methanol: The bridging marine fuel’ – highlighted that shipowners need to get the complete picture and understand the commercial, technical and environmental fundamentals of alternate fuels before opting to spend millions on conversion or ordering new ships.
In comparison to LNG, methanol is an easier to handle marine fuel and conversion and maintenance is much less expensive. Capt Saleem cautioned that further regulations to limit CO2 emissions remain a real possibility and made a compelling argument to support methanol as a potential solution to address this issue.
Ben Iosefa, vice president global market development, Methanex, provided a shipowner’s perspective on operating vessels using methanol as fuel, including the economics and availability. Methanex, based in Vancouver, BC, is the world’s largest producer and supplier of methanol to major international markets.
Methanex Corp’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Waterfront Shipping has a fleet of 28 ships, including seven methanol dual-fuel vessels launched in 2016 with another four new methanol powered ships to be delivered in 2019.
Teething troubles with the first methanol fuelled engines have generally been sorted out and improvements made to new engines will be incorporated into the new ships. He claimed that methanol is an innovative marine fuel solution with benefits, such as emission reductions when compared to heavy fuel oil and MGO (99% SOx, 60% NOx and 95% PM), wide availability, low incremental cost, fuel flexibility, competitive fuel costs, safe, environmentally friendly, successfully in use today and its commercialisation activity expanding.
The Methanol Institute is based in Singapore and is the global trade association for the methanol industry representing the world’s leading methanol producers, distributors and technology companies.
Tim Chan, manager, government relations and business development, Methanol Institute explained that methanol is a cost effective and future proof fuel which can be produced from a variety of feedstocks besides being widely available and alleviates many infrastructure limitations on land and at sea. It is one of the top five seaborne chemical commodities and has been safely handled for over 100 years. Newbuild dual fuel tankers are only marginally more expensive than conventionally fuelled vessels and capital costs for conversions are less than LNG and after treatment technologies, he claimed..
Mark Penfold, manager, global gas solutions, in ‘ABS views on the use of Methanol as marine fuel’ candidly pointed out that finding the optimal fuel strategy for a fleet is complex.
Typical factors to be considered include the ship’s trading area, ship’s age, the availability of different fuels (ie LNG, LPG, Methanol, etc) in the area of operation, capital costs and operating costs.
He provided information on various compliance options and how ABS Rules are in place for the classification and risk assessment of all low flashpoint fuels and as a third party, can provide objective input about appropriate technologies or alternative fuels for specific vessels.
Regulations are becoming stricter and to find the most cost-effective approaches, shipowners and operators must tailor their compliance solutions to their fleet, he said, identifying the two major regulations addressing the safety aspects – the revised IGC Code applicable to all gas carriers and the IGF Code applicable to all other ships using gases or other low flashpoint fuels, together with providing information on the available and emerging engine technologies that meet these safety regulations.
Ibrahim Behairy, WinGD managing director, Middle East discussed the latest developments in propulsion units using methanol as a fuel. WinGD low-pressure dual-fuel technology has been developed to respond to the market requirements of providing a propulsion solution capable to run efficiently, effectively and safely on gas, on top of conventional heavy fuel oil or diesel oil, he said.
The technology is based on the low-pressure gas system concept. WinGD X-DF engines significantly reduce emissions to lowest level in the industry. GHG emissions are also reduced compared to conventional diesel engines. This system has a competitive initial investment and fulfils Tier III emission requirements without any external exhaust gas after treatment system. In brief, the technology allows a marine 2-stroke engine to simply, safely and reliably run on gas, he claimed.