Despite a pullback in recent years in the number of players working the U.S. Gulf Coast offshore bunker business, the offshore bunker segment so far this year appears to represent nearly a half-billion dollars’ worth of business while moving more than 4 million barrels of product.
In 2013, the Vancouver, Canada-based Waterfront Shipping Company introduced seven of the world’s first ocean-going vessels built with Germany’s MAN methanol dual-fuel engines. Early in 2021, Singapore’s Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS) announced it was partnering with MAN Energy Solutions and methanol producer OCI to convert conventional vessels from its existing tanker fleet to run on methanol, while at the same time planning to build new vessels with engines powered by methanol and ammonia.
Danish container shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk tabled contracts in August worth $1.4 billion for a series of 16,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) ships to be fitted with dual-fuel MAN engines, after ordering its first methanol dual-fueled 2,100 TEU container ship earlier in the year. Global production capacity of methanol totaled around 80 million metric tons in 2020 and is expected to increase by 3.2% every year for the next five years, IHS Markit data showed.
“The methanol-fueled engine market for shipping is really in the early stages,” says Martin Dorsman, secretary general of the European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA). “Some shipowners have run their vessels on methanol for some years, but they are the frontrunners. We are just at the start of the process,” Dorsman told OPIS.
Back in 2018, the IMO set out legislation to reduce the average carbon intensity of international shipping by 40% by 2030, followed by the adoption of new additional technical and operational requirements in June 2021.
Since then, energy transition in the maritime sector has gained momentum, with around 12% of newbuild vessels in 2021 ordered with alternative fuel systems, with liquefied natural gas (LNG) leading the way, according to the international shipping classification society DNV. That’s compared with 6% of newbuilds ordered in 2019, DNV data showed. However, less than 1% of ships currently in operation burn alternative fuels, with the huge majority that do use such fuel plying short-sea routes, said DNV.
In 2018, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized agency of the United Nations that internationally regulates shipping, adopted an initial greenhouse gas (GHG) strategy, targeting a minimum 50% reduction of total GHG emissions from international shipping by 2050, compared to 2008 levels.
Since the beginning of 2020, the world has been dramatically altered in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mid-December seemed to be giving a peek into the 2021 bunker market, as fuel prices have been rising and Brent crude values have rebounded to pre-COVID-19 levels, and distillates, although lagging, have also gained ground.