COSCO Eyeing Use of Methanol Bunkers

Wednesday March 14, 2018

China COSCO Shipping Energy Transportation Co., Ltd (COSCO) is eyeing the potential for switching to the use of methanol bunkers.

The shipping giant today inked an MOU with Houston-based IGP Methanol (IGP) and China's Jinguotou (Dalian) Development Co., Ltd (JGT) that will see the firms cooperate to construct up to two methanol plants in IGP Methanol's Gulf Coast Methanol Park to supply feedstock for Jinguotou's Methanol-to-Olefins (MTO) facility at Jin Zhou Port.

COSCO says its involvement in the deal will allow it to access and participate "in the new Green Energy Revolution Market."

"It is a key step for COSCO to move toward new clean transportation fuels, promoting the transformation and upgrading of traditional businesses for COSCO Energy Transportation, while providing strong support for IGP Methanol and JGT methanol distribution," the companies wrote in a press release accompanying the deal.

The firms are also looking at the feasibility of building new methanol-powered shipping vessels for the project.

While methanol ticks all the boxes for an attractive future marine fuel - not least of which being its near-zero sulfur content and distillate-like onboard handling characteristics - its uptake by the industry has been limited to date.

Still, attention to the alternative bunker fuel has increased in recent months. In December Chevron Marine Lubricants published a prominent white paper focused on the use of methanol as a marine fuel, and last month a group of industry stakeholders also came together to invest in four, 49,000 dwt tankers that will be capable of being powered by methanol bunkers.