Svitzer and Caterpillar in methanol MOU

Written by Nick Blenkey
Caterpillar and Svitzer methanol MOU signatories

Brad Johnson, Caterpillar Marine vice president and general manager of marine (left), and Kasper Karlsen, global chief operating officer of Svitzer.

Focusing on solutions that will enable it to utilize dual-fuel methanol engines in its fleet, the Maersk Group’s towage operator, Svitzer, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Caterpillar Marine, that covers conversions of existing Cat powered tugs, which comprise the majority of Svitzer’s fleet, as well as new engines.

With a relationship between the two companies that goes back decades, the agreement marks the next step on a journey that has included initiatives such as the adoption of biofuels in the EcoTow project, which has seen Svitzer’s entire fleets in London, Felixstowe, and Southampton successfully switch to low carbon biofuels, leading to its being rolled out in further locations.

Following the Cat 3500-E series methanol-readiness announcement in September 2022, the MOU formalizes the collaboration to deploy engine technologies that enable Svitzer to utilize methanol, which can be produced from renewable energy sources to reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions.

“Svitzer has a significant fleet of vessels powered by Cat systems, as well as ambitious decarbonization targets for our future fleet,” said Kasper Karlsen, global chief operating officer of Svitzer. “It is therefore of utmost importance that we join forces with strategic collaborators, such as Caterpillar Marine, to find solutions for both existing and future vessels.”

With a focused strategy on sustainability, Svitzer is making pragmatic decisions to support reductions in carbon intensity in the maritime industry, aiming to achieve a 50% reduction in the CO2 intensity of its entire fleet by 2030 and become CO2 neutral across all scopes by 2040, in line with the ambition of its parent Maersk Group.

“Many companies within the industry are exploring methods and solutions that can be incorporated today while also determining viable options for the future,” said Brad Johnson, Caterpillar Marine vice president and general manager of marine. “The collaboration between Caterpillar and Svitzer is an important step towards implementing the solutions that support their decarbonization strategy.”

“Given the size and complexity of our fleet and the ambitious target we have set of becoming carbon neutral in 2040, it is critical to take a holistic approach to reducing our CO2 emissions. While we seek to mature and utilize new technologies, fuel types and operational approaches for new vessels, we also have to find solutions that help reduce the emissions from our existing fleet. The support Caterpillar provides in finding ways of converting our equipment to methanol usage plays a key role in this” says Gareth Prowse, head of decarbonization for Svitzer.

“The focus of our collaboration is two-fold. We are supporting Svitzer to enable tugs to operate on methanol with diesel-like performance while providing fuel flexibility which is key to enabling operators to lower their carbon intensity via green methanol as availability increases. Additionally, we’re taking full advantage of the learnings to provide conversion solutions for the existing fleet. This is a critical aspect to reach the level of methanol adoption that Svitzer seeks to fulfill their goals,” said Andres Perez, global tug segment manager, Caterpillar Marine.

Brad Johnson, Caterpillar Marine vice president and general manager of marine (left), and Kasper Karlsen, global chief operating officer of Svitzer.

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