China makes headway on methanol bunkering ships

Zhejiang Seahead Ship Design and Research Institute has become the first to be granted approval in principle for a methanol bunkering ship in China. The China Classification Society (CCS) Wuhan Rules and Research Institute has given the green light for a ship design with a maximum methanol filling capacity of 7,500 tonnes.

The ship design sports filling hoses, emergency release devices, dry break valves, ESD systems and other measures and can run on both fuel oil and methanol.

“It fully considers the risks of methanol filling and the future development needs of Zhoushan as a bonded ship fuel filling centre in Northeast Asia. The technical indicators of this type of ship, such as speed, load capacity, economy, and ship type adaptability, have reached the advanced level of similar international ship types,” CCS said.  

The working group conducted in-depth research and detailed evaluation in terms of the overall design, ship layout, bunkering system, cargo containment system, safety protection, provided a full range of technical services in terms of ship safety and system design optimisation, and cooperated with the designer to carry out the application verification of the first draft of  “Guidelines for Methanol Fuel Bunkering Ships”.

CCS added that the completed development and in-principle approval are expected to lay the foundation for the design, evaluation and verification of China’s methanol fuel bunkering ships and help the industry better meet the growing demand for methanol fuel bunkering.

Interest in methanol as an alternative fuel has grown in the shipping industry ever since Maersk set the ball rolling on methanol-fuelled newbuilds in 2021 with a series of 16,000 teu units and its 2,100 teu feeder newbuild as part of its goal to achieve net zero in 2040. Today, it has 25 methanol-enabled vessels on order, as well as another industry first that will see the retrofit of one of its ships to methanol dual-fuel in 2024. 

Chinese boxship giant COSCO Shipping Holdings also signed up for methanol dual-fuel ships last year, becoming the third of the top four largest carriers to bet on the fuel. Last October, Sinopec claimed to be the first to carry out methanol bunkering for the 2022-built Proman and Stena’s tanker Stena Pro Patria at Nasha port in Gunangzhou.

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