Singapore launches world’s first ship powered by ammonia

Singapore is celebrating the world’s first use of ammonia as a marine fuel in combination with diesel in the combustion process.

The “Fortescue Green Pioneer” was bunkered with liquid ammonia from the ammonia plant at the Vopak Banyan Terminal on Jurong Island for the fuel test. [ds_preview].

At the beginning of 2022, the energy and raw materials group Fortescue acquired the 13-year-old offshore supply vessel “MMA Leveque” from the Australian company MMA Offshore. Built in 2010, the 3,100 dwt vessel was originally equipped with four diesel-electric Cummins main engines.

Fortescue had initially successfully 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 could be operated in dual-fuel mode with NH3 and diesel. The two remaining engines on board the “Fortescue Green Pioneer” are operated with conventional fuels if required.

The fuel trial in Singapore was conducted over a period of seven weeks and involved rigorous testing of the ammonia tank systems, associated piping, fuel supply system, retrofitted engines and seaworthiness of the Fortescue Green Pioneer. The tests were carried out in several phases to ensure safe port operations and the safety of the crew members and engineers, who have completed a series of training courses since October 2023.

Fortescue plans further ship projects with ammonia

With the completion of the fuel trial, the Fortescue Green Pioneer has also received flag approval from the Singapore Registry of Ships (SRS) and a “Gas Fuelled Ammonia” endorsement from classification society DNV to use NH3 in combination with diesel as a marine fuel.

The ship sailed from its home port of Singapore to Dubai last year for the COP28 climate conference to serve as a symbol of the technological solutions and regulatory changes needed to decarbonize shipping. As the relevant regulations were still lacking in Dubai, the “Fortescue Green Pioneer” still had to sail without ammonia.

Fortescue’s converted offshore supply vessel is only its first demonstrator. The company is also working on an ammonia bunker vessel and plans to launch a 300-meter-long ore bulker with the appropriate propulsion system by the end of this decade.

Andrew Forrest, CEO of Fortescue, said: “The ‘Fortescue Green Pioneer’ is proof that there are safe, technical solutions for ammonia propulsion. But as I did at COP 28 in Dubai, I again call on the world’s ports to set fair, safe and stringent fuel standards for green ammonia and not shy away from their responsibilities for lack of character. We must push for global emitters to pay fair carbon prices for the heavy fuels used in traditional shipping. These prices must send clear investment signals to encourage green investment.”

Other operators have also ordered their first ammonia-powered vessels, such as CMB and Berge Bulk.

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