Berge Bulk and ABS join forces to retrofit bulk carrier with methanol power


A pioneering joint development project (JDP) to evaluate the feasibility of converting a bulk vessel to methanol fuel propulsion has been signed by ABS and Berge Bulk (BB).

Berge Bulk CEO James Marshall and ABS Vice President of Global Sustainability Panos Koutsourakis signed the agreement which will see BB and ABS explore the possibility of retrofitting the 300-metre-long heavy fuel oil propelled bulk carrier BERGE MAUNA KEA to operate on methanol fuel.

The six-month study is underway, and the two companies will collaborate on a broad range of subjects from the availability of methanol fuel and practicalities of bunkering to the review of technical and economic aspects of the conversion.

The project represents a significant step forward in the development of methanol as a marine fuel and underscores the growing momentum of the clean energy transition in the shipping industry. One of the key benefits of methanol as a marine fuel is its low emissions profile. Compared to traditional marine fuels, methanol emits significantly lower levels of sulphur oxide (SOx), nitrogen oxide (NOx), and particulate matter.

“Retrofitting alternative fuel capability to the global fleet is going to be critical if we are to achieve our sustainability goals,” said Christopher J. Wiernicki, ABS Chairman, President and CEO. “This JDP is blazing a trail that many other vessels will ultimately have to travel as operators look to manage their decarbonisation trajectories over a vessel’s lifespan.

“Methanol is increasingly being recognized as a compelling alternative pathway for owners and operators. With practical benefits related to ease of storage and handling, tank-to-wake carbon intensity reduction, as well as a pathway to carbon neutrality through green methanol, methanol presents an immediate and promising solution.”

“Berge Bulk is committed to our target of achieving net zero carbon by 2025,” said James Marshall, CEO of Berge Bulk. “We see methanol as one of the solutions towards these ongoing decarbonisation efforts. Existing technologies are available to convert methanol for use in our engines, whilst there are also procedures for bunkering of methanol and its use onboard.

“As a leader in this industry, we are confident that this collaboration with ABS will accelerate our efforts towards zero carbon in this energy transition journey.”

The BERGE MAUNA KEA is a 210,000t dwt bulk carrier, currently under construction at the Nihon Shipyard in Japan. Delivery is expected in mid-2024.