DECEMBER 9, 2013 — Could methanol be as attractive an alternate clean fuel as LNG? The world's largest methanol supplier, Canada's Methanex Corporation, thinks so. It reports that its Waterfront Shipping subsidiary has reached an agreement with Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (MOL), Westfal-Larsen & Co A/S (WL) and Marinvest/Skagerack Invest to build six new ships, with an option for building an additional three, all to be delivered during 2016.
The 50,000 dead weight tonne vessels will be built with MAN ME-LGI flex fuel engines running on methanol, fuel oil, marine diesel oil, or gas oil.
With the growing demand for cleaner marine fuel to meet environmental regulations coming into effect in Northern Europe and other regions, methanol continues to be a promising alternative fuel for ships, says Methanex.
"We are very excited to continue investing in methanol-based marine fuel. This announcement reinforces our commitment to continue investing in sustainable technology. Methanol is a sulfur-free fuel that provides many environmental and clean burning benefits. With fuel prices increasing and upcoming shipping regulations requiring the use of cleaner marine fuel, methanol-based fuel is a promising alternative which reduces emissions and fuel costs," said Jone Hognestad, President, Waterfront Shipping.
Waterfront Shipping will charter these vessels to replace older vessels in its fleet and to support increased demand from Methanex Corporation's growth initiatives, including the relocation of two methanol plants from Chile to Geismar, Louisiana.
MOL, Marinvest/ Skagerrak Invest and WL will each own two ships, plus one optional vessel. The ships will be built by Hyundai Mipo Dockyard and Minaminippon Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.
MAN Diesel & Turbo announced the development of the ME-LGI dual fuel engine earlier this year. It says that the G50ME-LGI engines in the Waterfront Shipping newbuilds will run on a blend of 95% methanol and 5% diesel fuel.
"With increasing fuel prices and upcoming shipping regulations, we identified the need to develop an engine that can enable ships to run on alternative fuels with environmental benefits. The ability of our ME-LGI engine to run on a sulphur-free fuel offers great potential," stated Ole Grøne, Senior Vice-President, MAN Diesel & Turbo SE.
MAN developed the ME-LGI engine in response to interest from the shipping world in operating on alternatives to heavy fuel oil. Methanol and LPG carriers have operated at sea for many years and many more LPG tankers are currently being built as the global LPG infrastructure grows. With a viable, convenient and economic fuel already on-board, exploiting a fraction of the cargo to power a vessel makes sense with another important factor being the benefit to the environment.
MAN Diesel & Turbo says that it is already working towards a Tier-III-compatible ME-LGI version.