OCI and Unibarge have joined forces to develop Europe’s first dual-fuelled green methanol bunker barge, driving cleaner shipping. The vessel will be deployed at the Port of Rotterdam in 2024.

The retrofitted barge will be the first green inland waterway craft in Europe to also serve as a methanol bunker delivery vessel, both delivering and operating on green methanol. In addition to methanol, the vessel can also run on conventional biofuels.

The green methanol is produced from renewable and circular feedstocks, such as renewable natural gas from digesters, landfill, cellulosic biomass waste and is certified by ISCC (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification).

The barge can act as an end-to-end bunker solution with the ability to transport and deliver its OCI HyFuels green methanol to ocean-going vessels. By running on green methanol, the barge has the potential to reduce the amount of particulate matter emitted in inland waterways by ninety per cent. The barge is expected to be deployed into inland waterways from the Port of Rotterdam in the second half of 2024.

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Retrofit project at Unibarge

The retrofit project will be managed by Unibarge, who have selected the technology and equipment partners. OCI will take the barge on a long-term time charter and employ it in its regular trade, as well as using it to offer a full end-to-end bunker solution to larger vessels.

This barge will demonstrate the viability of operating smaller vessels on renewable and low carbon methanol to directly address emissions.

‘OCI and Unibarge are one of the first globally to concentrate decarbonisation efforts on smaller vessels and create what is currently a unique offer in Europe with this emission-free and dual-use barge, which both runs on and delivers our green methanol,’ says Bashir Lebada, CEO of OCI Methanol. ‘The project is part of our efforts to transition vessels across the board, including smaller craft that operate on inland waterways which often pass through populous areas.’

Alexander Wanders, COO of Unibarge, adds: ‘Not only will this project support the use of renewable and low carbon methanol, it will also provide a huge opportunity for existing barges to make a significant step by retrofitting existing engines, replacing gasoil with green methanol as the main fuel.’

Ammonia terminal expansion

Next to OCI‘s efforts in decarbonising the shipping industry with renewable methanol, OCI is also extending these efforts through its ammonia products. In June 2022, OCI announced the Final Investment Decision for its ammonia import terminal expansion project in the Port of Rotterdam to triple throughput capacity to 1.2 million tonnes by 2023.

The terminal is strategically located to facilitate bunkering to ocean-going vessels, and to act as a hub for hydrogen imported in the form of ammonia to meet Europe’s expected future hydrogen deficit.

Picture for illustrative purposes, not the actual barge that will be retrofitted.

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