Just weeks after making headlines with its ambitious announcement at the end of August, China Merchants Energy Shipping (CMES) has swiftly moved forward with the order of the world’s first methanol dual-fuel Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC).
As previously announced, Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Group Co. has been commissioned to build the 306,000-ton methanol dual-fuel giant for $107.5 million.
The delivery of the vessel should be no later than April 2026, as indicated earlier by the shipowner.
The signing ceremony took place on September 15, 2023, and was attended by prominent leaders and guests from the industry.
The landmark VLCC was independently developed by Dalian Shipbuilding based on the evolving needs of the merchant shipping industry. It boasts impressive credentials, including exceptional safety features, energy efficiency, environmental sustainability, and portability. Dalian said that the vessel meets the stringent International Maritime Organization (IMO) Tier III and EEDI III emission standards, placing its energy efficiency index at the forefront of the industry.
The decision comes as part of CMES’s commitment to adapting to the evolving trends in the shipping industry while maintaining an environmentally responsible approach.
Methanol dual-fuel technology holds immense potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to the global effort to combat climate change. It has emerged as one of the fastest-growing alternative fuels in the shipping sector.
The collaboration between China Merchants Energy Shipping and Dalian Shipbuilding commenced in 2007. Over the years, Dalian Shipbuilding has secured contracts for over 40 vessels of various types from China Merchants Energy Shipping, with a cumulative contract value nearing the impressive mark of $5 billion and a combined deadweight tonnage of approximately 10 million tons.
This latest project represents the fourth occasion within two years that China Merchants Energy Shipping has commissioned oil tankers from Dalian Shipbuilding.
This isn’t the first time that Dalian Shipbuilding has embarked on the journey to construct a groundbreaking vessel. Dalian Shipbuilding’s track record includes a notable achievement in 2016 when it acquired the contract to build the world’s first LNG-powered dual-fuel VLCC from COSCO Shipping Energy.
Dalian said that the latest achievement marks another major milestone in the realm of such advanced vessels, and reaffirms CSSC’s dominance within the high-end medium and large oil tanker sector.
The vote of confidence in methanol from Chinese shipping majors comes as no surprise having in mind that Chinese shipping heavyweights China Merchants Energy Shipping and COSCO Shipping Bulk said a year ago that they would focus on methanol marine fuel as their primary area of research in the future.
Methanol has emerged as a compelling marine fuel option for shipping due to a confluence of factors, not the least of which is the maturity of engine technology.
With a well-established infrastructure for production and distribution, methanol offers a readily available and cost-effective alternative to traditional marine fuels. Its liquid state at ambient temperatures simplifies storage and handling, reducing logistical complexities. In addition, the industry has been handling the fuel as cargo for years hence the industry’s familiarity with handling methanol as cargo for many years provides an invaluable advantage.