Two Norwegian companies ECONNECT Energy and Amon Maritime recently established a joint venture Azane Fuel Solutions looking to fill an existing gap in the ammonia fuel value chain by developing ammonia ship bunkering terminals.
André Risholm founder of Amon Maritime and Morten Christophersen co-founder and CEO of ECONNECT Energy told Maritime CEO they started working on what eventually became Azane Fuel Solutions because they did not see anyone creating solutions for small-scale ammonia bunkering in ports, so they decided to start developing it themselves.
The starting points of the new ammonia bunkering venture go back to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) days where Risholm and the founders of ECONNECT Energy studied at the same time.
“Me and Stian Magnusson, chief innovation officer at ECONNECT Energy, have kept in touch since then,” Risholm says. “We realised that we had common interests in taking a position in the market for ammonia bunkering technology and that the two companies together would be a great combination of strengths and competencies to attack this challenge.”
André Risholm founded Amon Maritime to pioneer ammonia fuelled ships and related technology in 2019. Before that he held various positions in the DOF group, notably newbuilding project manager for large OSV projects, as well as asset manager for the DOF/TechnipFMC joint venture in Brazil.
ECONNECT Energy CEO Morten Christophersen co-founded the company, which has since its inception nearly a decade ago developed and commercialised innovative LNG and clean energy infrastructure to speed up the energy transition.
Risholm and Christophersen both strongly believe that carbon-free ammonia is the way to go. They say that ammonia has many benefits compared to other hydrogen-derived, carbon-free options, but the three largest ones are volumetric energy density, ease of handling and storage, and pre-existing global production.
Azane Fuel Solutions is developing small-scale bunkering terminals up to a couple of thousand cubic meters and is aiming to standardise and productise them from the very start in order to keep costs low. However, since different locations will have different needs, they’ve decided to provide two product groups: Land-based and floating.
“The gas/liquid process facility will largely be the same, as well as a lot of commonalities for safety systems, but a barge requires more marine systems, and a land-based solution may require more civil works, so there are pros and cons for each.”
The CEOs share that Azane is currently involved with a few different projects and partners, but it is too early to reveal details about which companies they are working with. We can expect some news about the ongoing project during the fall, which includes partners covering the entire value chain from production, via distribution to specific bunkering locations and consumption onboard ships.
For the time being, Risholm and Christophersen say they are “running as fast as they can” with Azane Fuel Solutions; developing technology and commercial opportunities in parallel, as well as working on funding the first pilot unit to prove the concept and lay the foundation for many more units in the future.
“We would like to make clear that we are interested in collaborating with all stakeholders along the ammonia fuel value chain – if someone has a need to bunker a ship with ammonia fuel, they should talk with us.”
In order for ammonia to become the fuel of choice, they feel a carbon tax for shipping taxed at the point of fuel purchase is needed, cost-efficient large-scale decarbonization of ammonia production, and pioneers along the value chain willing to take risks to develop and build ships and infrastructure.