First methanol bunkering in Europe with deepsea vessel Ane Maersk at Port of Antwerp-Bruges

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This week the world’s first large methanol-powered deep-sea vessel ‘Ane Maersk’ called the Antwerp port at the MSC PSA European Terminal (MPET). The vessel completed its first bunker operation in European waters, bunkering 4.300 tons of green methanol and 1.375 tons of biodiesel (B100) during the port stay. The successful and efficient bunkering is a new milestone in Port of Antwerp-Bruges’ ambition to become a multifuel port.

The call at the Antwerp port is part of Ane Maersk’s maiden voyage from South Korea to China, fuelled by green methanol. The container vessel built by Hyundai Heavy Industries in South Korea has a nominal capacity of 16,000 TEU and is equipped with a dual-fuel engine enabling operations on methanol as well as biodiesel and conventional bunker fuel. Ane Maersk is the first of Maersk’s 18 large methanol-enabled vessels, that will be delivered between 2024 and 2025 and world’s second methanol-enabled container vessel.

The bunkering took place at the MPET terminal and was accomplished safely during terminal operations. TankMatch dispatched two barges to transfer 4.300 tons of green methanol onto the Ane Maersk. Subsequently, a barge from VT Group delivered 1.375 tons of biodiesel (B100).

The bunkering process was seamlessly integrated into the vessel’s port stay, combining bunkering simultaneously with on- and off-loading of cargo. The so called ‘simultaneous operations’ (SIMOPS) increased the efficiency of the port stay by lowering additional time allocation for refuelling. This impressive milestone reflects the excellent collaboration between multiple stakeholders involved.

For Port of Antwerp-Bruges, this is also a milestone in its ambition to become a multifuel port, where a multitude of different climate neutral fuels such as hydrogen, ammonia, methane and methanol are available for bunkering, in addition to the range of bio- and conventional bunker fuels already available. In June 2023 the very first methanol bunkering operation took place at Port of Antwerp-Bruges, when 475 mT (metric tonnes) of methanol were bunkered onto the tanker Stena Pro Marine.

Port of Antwerp-Bruges already has the capacity to store climate neutral fuels for use within its industrial cluster and distribution to the hinterland. In the context of the broad energy transition, where hydrogen carriers like methanol, ammonia, and methane are set to play pivotal roles, many tank storage terminals have invested in extra capacity or are planning to do so.

In the process of enabling the bunkering of climate neutral fuels at both its platforms, Port of Antwerp-Bruges has conducted risk assessments for all types of fuel, is setting up safety protocols and will ensure the highest qualifications within its bunkering ecosystem by implementing a licensing system for bunker operators.

Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO Port of Antwerp-Bruges, commented: “As the fifth largest bunkering port in the world, we are committed to playing a pioneering role in the integration of climate neutral fuels to the bunker market. Port of Antwerp-Bruges will provide facilities where possible, make both platforms multifuel ready and is itself committed to making its fleet greener by using alternative fuels.”

Vincent Clerc, Chief Executive Officer of A.P. Moller-Maersk, said: “Deploying the first of our large methanol-enabled vessels on one of the world’s largest trade lanes, Asia – Europe, is a landmark in our journey towards our Net-Zero target. With the vessel’s capacity of 16,000 containers, this will make a significant impact in our customers’ efforts to decarbonise their supply chains, and we are looking forward to introducing more methanol-enabled vessels on this and other trades during 2024. With its ambition to become a multifuel port, Port of Antwerp-Bruges will play a crucial role in this.”

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