Dawn of a new era for shipping with Waterfront’s dual-fuel methanol fleet set to deliver

This month Waterfront Shipping Company, a subsidiary of Methanex Corporation, will start operating a new fleet of 50,000 dwt ships which can run on methanol, something the line’s president is adamant is a cheaper way to go green.

“The cost to build new and convert existing vessels to run on methanol is significantly less than alternate fuel conversions,” said Jone Hognestad the president of Waterfront in a release from engine maker MAN B&W, which is supplying the engines to the new ships.

“Methanol is a biodegradable, clean-burning marine fuel that reduces smog-causing emissions such as particulates, sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides,” MAN B&W said in the release.

Waterfront Shipping will charter the seven vessels to replace older vessels and expand its fleet. Two of the vessels are owned by Westfal-Larsen, two vessels are jointly owned by Marinvest and Waterfront Shipping, and the remaining three vessels are owned by Mitsui OSK Lines. The ships were built by Hyundai Mipo Dockyard and Minaminippon Shipbuilding. The first three vessels are being delivered in April, with the remaining four to be delivered by October 2016.

Waterfront Shipping operates the world’s largest methanol ocean tanker fleet with its fleet comprising 22 vessels from 3,000 to 50,000 dwt.

Commenting on the development, bunkering expert Douglas Raitt, the global FOBAS manager for Lloyd’s Register, told Splash: “Methanol is a compelling option as an alternative fuel – no significant retrofit costs or newbuild costs as opposed to LNG and easier and safer to handle.”

It is mooted there is not enough methanol to go around at the moment to support large scale adoption of methanol as a fuel for shipping but the Raitt suggested supply could be ramped and scaled up should demand be there.



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.
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