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World’s first methanol-fuelled ships about to enter service

Tue 12 Apr 2016 by Martyn Wingrove

World’s first methanol-fuelled ships about to enter service
MAN demonstrated the ME-LGI engine for the shipowners in 2015

The world’s first ocean-going ships capable of operating on methanol are about to be delivered to operator Waterfront Shipping Co. In a groundbreaking event, three methanol-propelled tankers are due to be delivered this month from South Korean and Japanese shipyards. Another four methanol-burning ships are scheduled to enter service in October this year.

The seven 50,000 dwt product tankers will be used to replace older vessels and expand Waterfront’s fleet of methanol carriers. The new ships each have MAN B&W’s dual-fuel, two-stroke engines ME-LGI, which can run on methanol, fuel oil, marine diesel oil or gasoil. Two of the vessels will be owned by Westfal-Larsen Management (WL), three by Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) and the other two by a joint venture between Marinvest and Skagerack Invest and Waterfront. The ships are constructed by Hyundai Mipo Dockyard and Minaminippon Shipbuilding Co.

Waterfront expects these tankers will demonstrate the viability of methanol as an alternative marine fuel and significantly reduce emissions. “Working with our partners to advance new, clean technology is an important and innovative step,” said Waterfront president Jone Hognestad. “Investing in methanol-based marine fuel reinforces our commitment to invest in sustainable technology that not only provides environmental benefits but also an economically viable alternative marine fuel. The cost to build new and convert existing vessels to run on methanol is significantly less than alternative fuel conversions.”

Waterfront expects to take delivery of the first two vessels from Hyundai Mipo Dockyard on 20 and 28 April. One of these will be owned by WL and the other by the Waterfront/Marinvest joint venture. MOL expects to take delivery of the first dual-fuel ship in Japan on 22 April.  “Having these vessels operating on methanol marine fuel provides shippers and port facilities with a practical and diversified fuel solution that meets today’s and tomorrow’s emission requirements,” said MOL managing technical executive officer Yoshikazu Kawagoe. The ships are classed by DNV GL, which provides additional notation LFL Fuelled to demonstrate their compliance with safety requirements for low flash point fuels.

Waterfront is a subsidiary of Canada’s Methanex Corp and operates a fleet of 22 deepsea tankers of between 3,000 dwt and 50,000 dwt, which are used for transporting methanol worldwide.

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