Mitsui O.S.K. Lines: forging ahead with a comprehensive strategy for maritime ammonia

Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), a group with activities across multiple industry segments inside and outside shipping, renewed their environmental vision in April 2023. They declared a strategic direction including a substantial role for low carbon ammonia. In harmony with shipping decarbonization policy development at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and elsewhere, the penetration of new maritime fuels requires help from such strategic initiatives at the company level. During our Maritime Insights webinar this August, MOL representatives Akihiro Yonehara (General Manager, Environment Team, Environment & Sustainability Strategy Division) & Shinichi Taguchi (Associate General Manager, Green Bunker Fuel Project, Energy Business Strategy Division / Marine Fuel GX Division) were shared further details about MOL’s ambitious strategy. You can rewatch the discussion here, and access the speaker’s presentations here.

Wide scope of initiatives

MOL’s on-water activity includes Container, Bulk, Car Carrier, LNG, Floating Storage & Regasification Unit/Floating Storage Unit and Tanker segments, totalling over 800 ships. Their new environmental vision (Environmental Vision 2.2) therefore has a wide variety of deployment options. From the GHG perspective, the vision brings in the necessary action to restrain global temperature rise to below the internationally recognized target of no more than 1.5℃. For MOL this requires a combination of measures intended to stay within this emissions pathway, reaching not only net zero by 2050 in terms of direct energy use, but also including a carbon dioxide removal element to result in negative emissions. By 2050, deployment of low & zero carbon alternative fuel including ammonia and hydrogen is expected to reduce 70% of current GHG reduction.

Future fuel roadmap for MOL’s ocean-going fleet. From Akihiro Yonehara & Shinichi Taguchi, The integrated role of low carbon ammonia in maritime strategy (Aug 2023).
Click to enlarge. Future fuel roadmap for MOL’s ocean-going fleet. From Akihiro Yonehara & Shinichi Taguchi, The integrated role of low carbon ammonia in maritime strategy (Aug 2023).

This pathway represents a projected requirement of up to 2 million tonnes of ammonia for their fleet by 2035, at which point they expect to have deployed 130 net-zero fueled ships. Their efforts are supported by collaborative missions with the First Movers Coalition, Mission Possible Partnership and more lately The Global Center for Maritime Decarbonization. In addition to ammonia, they are also featuring methanol in their alternative fuel mix and use of wind power in their efficiency improvement measures. Their carbon dioxide removal methodology includes both nature-based solutions and investment in technology-based solutions.

Ammonia strategy

When identifying the potential zero emissions scenario when using ammonia shipping fuel, MOL also recognizes a considerable need for development of the production and supply infrastructure. Currently, 250 million tonnes per year of fossil fuels are consumed by the international shipping industry for fuel, and much (if not all) of this will need to be replaced by alternative energies and fuels. Besides ship fuel, MOL also recognizes a more immediate demand for low carbon ammonia as a hydrogen carrier to Europe and for co-firing for power generation in Japan and Korea.

Transport and utilization

MOL's transportation & utilization projects for ammonia fuel. From Akihiro Yonehara & Shinichi Taguchi, The integrated role of low carbon ammonia in maritime strategy (Aug 2023).
Click to enlarge. MOL’s transportation & utilization projects for ammonia fuel. From Akihiro Yonehara & Shinichi Taguchi, The integrated role of low carbon ammonia in maritime strategy (Aug 2023).

MOL are well on their declared pathway for ammonia. They have signed an MoU with MAN Energy Solutions for ammonia fuel ship engines anticipated for delivery to market by 2025. They are jointly developing an ammonia fueled gas carrier with Tsuneishi Shipbuilding and Mitsui E&S Shipbuilding and have another development project with Mitsubishi Shipbuilding (MSB) & Namura Shipbuilding for a “J-Flex” post-VLGC size ammonia fueled ammonia carrier. This second vessel is an optimum design to support fuel delivery to Japanese coal fired power stations. MOL is also engaged with MSB and Kansai Electric on the development and deployment of an ammonia FSRU. This all aligns to an MoU with Jera for the study of an ammonia fueled ammonia supply chain including shipment to the Hekinan Power Station, currently under development. There is also a study ongoing with AiP in hand for an ammonia fueled Capesize bulk carrier and ammonia marine fuel storage vessel in Singapore.

The further value chain and beyond

Building a complete supply chain for ammonia fuel, based on production in Louisiana, USA. From Akihiro Yonehara & Shinichi Taguchi, The integrated role of low carbon ammonia in maritime strategy (Aug 2023).
Click to enlarge. Building a complete supply chain for ammonia fuel, based on production in Louisiana, USA. From Akihiro Yonehara & Shinichi Taguchi, The integrated role of low carbon ammonia in maritime strategy (Aug 2023).

MOL are involved with investment and transport facilitation for production projects in Louisiana, USA and Tasmania, Australia. They therefore see themselves at a “once-in-a-century turning point”, where they are positioned to participate in the whole value chain. This includes participation in production of renewable and CCS pathway ammonia, physical carbon-dioxide handling, Seabourne ammonia transportation and on to supply for ship fuel and other uses. They refer to building social infrastructure and see additional carbon dioxide removal as an integral part of this strategy. They refer to building social infrastructure and see additional carbon dioxide removal as an integral part of this strategy.

Midway through 2023, with the decade ahead representing a make or break for alternative energy roll out in maritime and all industry, MOL are one of those making their own momentum. They are willing to try all options including creating a venture capital unit in the USA for investment in decarbonization technologies including carbon capture technology and are practically engaged in Green Corridor deployment.

Watch a replay of the discussion via the AEA’s Vimeo channel.


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