Shipping players look to cut carbon emissions with vessel powered by ammonia

LONDON (Reuters) - A shipbuilder and engine maker are among leading companies looking to develop a vessel that can run on ammonia as part of efforts to speed up carbon reductions in shipping through cleaner fuel options, officials said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Oil tankers pass through the Strait of Hormuz, December 21, 2018. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/File Photo

The new project aims to design an oil tanker that can be fueled with ammonia and whose technology can be adapted to other types of ships, officials say.

It brings together engine maker MAN Energy Solutions MANG.DE, shipbuilder Samsung Heavy Industries 010140.KS, ship classification society Lloyd's Register and maritime energy services company MISC Berhad MISC.KL.

International shipping accounts for 2.2% of global carbon dioxide emissions, according to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), more than aviation’s 2% share.

The IMO, a United Nations agency, has said it aims to halve greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from 2008 levels by 2050.

Investor and activist pressure is prompting companies to look to step up ways to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.

High costs and potential safety issues have meant that future fuels such as ammonia have been slow to advance.

“MAN are working hard to make the engine ready for ships to be delivered from 2024. This suggests a best case scenario of full design work completed such that a commercial ship building contract could be placed in 2022 for delivery in 2024,” marine & offshore director at Lloyd’s Register Nick Brown told Reuters.

“But delays may be experienced especially if the fuel supply industry does not provide more assurance that new fuels will be available and at what price.”

Shipping companies are exploring solutions ranging from using high-quality paint to working on infrastructure to enable zero carbon ships to be on the water by 2030, which is seen as the latest time to be ready for 2050 given that ships have a lifespan of up to 25 years.

“We all know that the industry–wide movement is vital, and new zero-carbon fuel technologies, such as ammonia fuel, are to be brought on the table, in order to take action proactively on maritime GHG emissions in accordance with the IMO’s ambitious road map,” Joon Ou Nam, president and chief executive of Samsung Heavy Industries, said in a separate statement.

Editing by David Evans