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Maersk to add 8 large ocean-going vessels capable of operating on carbon-neutral methanol

In the first quarter of 2024, A.P. Moller - Maersk will introduce the first in a series of eight large ocean-going container vessels capable of being operated on carbon-neutral methanol. The vessels will be built by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) and have a nominal capacity of approx. 16,000 containers (Twenty Foot Equivalent - TEU). The agreement with HHI includes an option for 4 additional vessels in 2025.

The vessels come with a dual fuel engine setup. Additional capital expenditure (CAPEX) for the dual fuel capability, which enables operation on methanol as well as conventional low sulfur fuel, will be in the range of 10-15% of the total price.

Maersk will operate the vessels on carbon-neutral e-methanol or sustainable bio-methanol as soon as possible. Sourcing an adequate amount of carbon neutral methanol from day one in service will be challenging, as it requires a significant production ramp up of proper carbon neutral methanol production, for which Maersk continues to engage in partnerships and collaborations with relevant players.

The vessels will be designed to have a flexible operational profile, enabling them to perform efficiently across many trades, and add flexibility regarding customer needs. They will feature a methanol propulsion configuration developed in collaboration with makers including MAN ES, Hyundai (Himsen) and Alfa Laval which represents a significant scale-up of the technology from the previous size limit of around 2,000 TEU. The vessels will be classed by the American Bureau of Shipping and sail under Danish flags.

The series will replace older vessels, generating annual CO2 emissions savings of around 1 million tonnes. As an industry first, the vessels will offer Maersk customers truly carbon neutral transportation at scale on the high seas.

More than half of Maersk’s 200 largest customers have set—or are in the process of setting—carbon targets for their supply chains. As part of Maersk’s ongoing collaboration with customers, corporate sustainability leaders including Amazon, Disney, H&M Group, HP Inc., Levi Strauss & Co., Microsoft, Novo Nordisk, The Procter and Gamble Company, PUMA, Schneider Electric, Signify, Syngenta and Unilever have committed to use and scale zero carbon solutions for their ocean transport, with many more expected to follow.

The new vessels come as part of Maersk’s ongoing fleet renewal program and will replace tonnage of more than 150,000 TEU which is reaching end-of-life and leaving the Maersk managed fleet between 2020 and Q1 2024.

CAPEX for the announced vessels is included in current guidance for 2021-2022 of US$7 billion. Maersk further reiterates its strategy of maintaining a fleet capacity in the 4.0 to 4.3 million TEU range, as a combination of Maersk managed and time-chartered vessels.



' More than half of Maersk’s 200 largest customers have set—or are in the process of setting—carbon targets for their supply chains.'

That's the way to do it!

Technology neutral in hitting a target!


In the past, when bunker oil w/o any requirement that necessitated exhaust aftertreatment was the benchmark, methanol was “not viable”. Facing complicated aftertreatment with bunker oil, or LNG, as options, methanol suddenly seems very competitive. As an energy carrier in general, methanol is also competitive with hydrogen.


Methanol is way easier to store on board than hydrogen.

Its downside is that it releases CO2 and the hope is to establish a production cycle which recycles it.


Don't know which is worse: the escaping gasses from the oil fields or the pollution of making hydrogen from reforming.
Interesting some of the greenwashing names, i.e., conventional low sulfur fuel--bunker oil; carbon neutral methanol--LNG.
Given the duel fuel capability and the escape clause of waiting for the ramp up of carbon-neutral e-methanol or sustainable bio-methanol(two more great greenwashing names by the way), they will be using 'conventional low sulfur fuel'--bunker oil for as long as they can.

Thomas Pedersen


They expect these ships to be 10-15% higher in CAPEX, and OPEX is most certainly higher.

What has prompted Maersk to commission new ships now, rather than in 2028, as was their original strategy towards zero carbon emission in 2050, is market demand for zero carbon shipping.

As more and more organizations, particularly those with a high $/ton and/or $/m3 retail value, such as apple, Nike, fashion, etc, adopt zero emission strategies, they realize how infinitesimal the cost of shipping is in their overall value chain. A single 40 foot container can literally hold $2bn worth of iPhone 12!

If you take the bike to the electronics store to pick up a new phone, you will have spent more oil on bike tire wear than was consumed by the ship to transport it from Asia to the nearest port. OK, maybe I am exaggerating but we are within that order of magnitude. By my estimation from numbers on Wikipedia, fuel consumption per 40-foot container is about one metric ton from Asia to Europe. And one container holds 2 million iPhones, so that equates to 0.5 grams of fuel per iPhone.

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