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Fortescue successfully tests ammonia conversion

Energy and commodities group Fortescue has announced the successful completion of sea trials of its ammonia-converted offshore supply vessel.

With the support of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), Fortescue has successfully completed the propulsion and manoeuvrability tests for the Singapore-registered “Fortescue Green Pioneer” in the port of the Southeast Asian city-state. The tests were carried out with 6.4 m³ or 4.4 tons of liquid ammonia in combination with diesel and hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO), a second-generation biofuel, as marine fuel over ten days from 23 April 2024 to 2 May 2024. [ds_preview]

The milestone follows the successful completion of the world’s first dual-fuel trial with ammonia in the port of Singapore by the “Fortescue Green Pioneer” in March 2024, when the ship received flag approval from the Singapore Shipping Registry (SRS) and the endorsement “Gas Fuelled Ammonia” from the classification society DNV for the use of ammonia in combination with diesel as a marine fuel. The approval and endorsement were granted following the completion of a series of fuel trials conducted over a seven-week period in February and March 2024 using 5 m³ (3 tons) of liquid ammonia. The “Fortescue Green Pioneer” was anchored during this time. The ammonia storage systems, the associated pipelines, the gas fuel supply system, the retrofitted engines and the seaworthiness of the ship were tested.

On 23 April 2024, another tranche of liquid ammonia was loaded at the Vopak Banyan Terminal on Jurong Island to enable the subsequent series of propulsion and manoeuvrability tests as part of the ship’s sea trials.

A designated test area along the Raffles Reserved Anchorage was secured by MPA for the trials, and an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) was set up at MPA’s Port Control Centre where representatives from MPA, Fortescue, Vopak, research institutes and government agencies could monitor the loading of the fuel and the sea trials.

The propulsion and manoeuvring trials also included tests to validate the management of nitrogen-based emissions and to assess the ability of the ship’s engine to operate with varying amounts of HVO in combination with ammonia.

The “Fortescue Green Pioneer” is the 13-year-old offshore supply vessel “MMA Leveque”, which the Australian mining group acquired from Australian MMA Offshore in early 2022. Built in 2010, the 3,100 dwt vessel was originally equipped with four diesel-electric Cummins main engines.

Fortescue had initially converted a four-stroke engine to run on a mixture of ammonia and diesel at its test facility in Perth. In July 2023, the ship came to the Seatrium shipyard in Benoi for conversion work. Here, a complete gas fuel supply system was installed and two of the four engines of the “Green Pioneer” were converted so that the ship can be operated in dual-fuel mode with NH3 and diesel. The two remaining diesel engines on board will be operated with conventional fuels if required.

Fortescue has also been planning to convert its fleet of ore bulkers to ammonia propulsion for some time.

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