Maersk signs up for world’s first container fuelled by carbon neutral methanol

Maersk has finally revealed details of the construction of its first methanol-fuelled boxship. The Danish container shipping giant has signed with South Korea’s Hyundai Mipo Dockyard to build a dual-fuelled 2,100 teu ship that will trade in northern Europe.

“This groundbreaking container vessel shows that scalable solutions to properly solve shipping’s emissions challenge are available already today. From 2023 it will give us valuable experience in operating the container vessels of the future while offering a truly carbon neutral product for our many customers who look to us for help to decarbonize their supply chains,” said Henriette Hallberg Thygesen, CEO of fleet and strategic brands at A.P. Moller – Maersk.

Maersk announced its intention to order a methanol-fuelled ship in February and last month Soren Skou, the company’s CEO, revealed in a webinar it had been ordered without saying where.

The feeder will be 172 m long and will sail in the network of Sealand Europe, a Maersk subsidiary, on the Baltic shipping route between northern Europe and the Bay of Bothnia.

The methanol propulsion configuration for the vessel will be developed by MAN Energy Solutions, Hyundai Engine and Machinery and Himsen. The ship will be classed by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS).

“Developing this vessel is a significant challenge, but we have already come a long way in our work with the yard and the makers to reach this milestone. While we are pioneering these solutions for our industry, we are working with well-proven technologies and the cost potential from further scaling is becoming very clear to us,” said Ole Graa Jakobsen, head of fleet technology, A.P. Moller – Maersk.

Maersk has eschewed ordering LNG-fuelled ships, saying for more than a year that all future ships would be non-fossil fuel varieties.

More than half of Maersk’s largest customers have set – or are in the process of setting – science-based or zero carbon targets for their supply chains.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. I’m not sure I understand how methanol is carbon neutral. Methanol, or Moonshine as it used to be called, is created in a still that is a by-product of natural gas. The chemical formula, CH₃OH, makes it clear that this is a hydrocarbon fuel. The energy for propulsion is derived from splitting the carbon-hydrogen-oxygen bonds, resulting in in the release of H2O (water) and CO2. So this fuel is still emitting carbon dioxide. It is basic chemistry that for every tonne of methanol burnt about 3 tonnes of CO2 are emitted.

    What IS different is that this CO2 is released as a clean gas, rather than burning heavy fuel oil where the carbon is emitted partially as particulates. So from that aspect it is a good idea. Not as good as a carbon free fuel such as ammonia, though.

    1. Your argument fails to account for production pathways other than natural gas, e.g, biogenic feedstocks.

  2. Making green methanol to use as fuel in IC engine, Fuel Cell for EV besides wide use as feedstock for the production of various chemicals stands to become very attractive. Methanol can also act as long duration storage/Battery where excess renewable powers are available.

    I have been working in the latter part with some institute in Canada.

    Enquiry from interested party is highly encouraged.

  3. Methenol, CH2OH, contains carbon. Fact. The only way Methenol can be carbon “neutral” is if the carbon is derived from direct air capture.

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