X-Press Feeders has fourteen dual-fuel vessels on order and due for delivery from next year’s first quarter through to mid-2026. The methanol-powered vessels will be used to create “green routes” from Rotterdam to the Scandinavia-Baltic region of northern Europe.

The shipping company currently operates a fleet of more than 100 vessels. The fourteen dual-fuel ships on order each have a capacity of 1200 TEU with a length overall (LOA) of 148 metres.

Also read: X-Press Feeders to bunker green methanol in Rotterdam

Eco Maestro

The first dual-fuel vessel, Eco Maestro, will have its maiden voyage in Q1 next year, and it will be from Shanghai – where the ship is built – to the Port of Rotterdam via the Suez Canal.

Eco Maestro, which is the first bio methanol powered ship to be built in China, will use bio-methanol for its voyage to Europe. Bio-methanol is a renewable energy source produced from the decomposition of organic matter, such as waste and residues. Because bio methanol is produced from a renewable source, it is often referred to as green methanol.

Methanol supply challenging

While X-Press Feeders is committed to using green methanol, the availability and distribution of methanol at ports on a global scale still poses a challenge.

‘We aim to power Eco Maestro with green methanol for the entire journey from Shanghai to Rotterdam, but certain ports enroute have no infrastructure at present to supply methanol to ships, so we are engaging them to make it possible,’ says Francis Goh, X-Press Feeders’ chief operating officer. We see this maiden voyage as a way to promote sustainable shipping globally and highlight to the global community how the shipping industry is working to play its part in helping to reduce CO2e emissions.’

Goh adds: ‘By embarking on this voyage, we are also highlighting to all industry stakeholders – not just shipping companies, but also regulators, port operators, fuel suppliers, logistics companies, freight-forwarders and beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) – that we all need to work together and play our part to make sustainable shipping a reality. Only by working together – step by step – can the industry put in place the necessary infrastructure at ports to support sustainable shipping. And only by having the end customer – namely the BCOs – on board, can we make sustainable shipping financially viable.’

According to X-Press Feeders, production of green methanol and other sustainable fuels needs to scale up enormously to meet the needs of the global maritime industry.

Also read: X-Press Feeders to fit two more ships with onboard carbon capture

Feeder network from Rotterdam

After its inaugural voyage from Shanghai to Rotterdam, Eco Maestro will be operating on a feeder network in Northern Europe, based in the Port of Rotterdam. The green routes will start in next year’s second quarter and be from Rotterdam to ports in Scandinavia and the Baltic states.

X-Press Feeders has already signed a firm contract with Dutch fuel supplier OCI Global for the supply of green methanol at the Port of Rotterdam starting from 2024. OCI’s green methanol is ISCC (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification) certified.

‘As a feeder operator, where our ships tend to operate on short sea routes within a relatively small geography, the quantities of bio-methanol available are sufficient for our dual-fuel vessels to run “closed loop” services, where about 95 per cent of the entire round voyage can be powered by methanol, with a resupply of fuel at the bunkering port after every voyage,’ states Goh.

Cutting emissions

The benefit of using green methanol is that it greatly reduces CO2e emissions. Eco Mastro deployed on a round voyage service, would save 268 kg of CO2e emissions for every TEU carried, when compared to a feeder vessel of similar capacity running on conventional marine fuel.

The decision to add dual-fuel vessels powered by green methanol is a key element of the company’s pledge to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e) by twenty per cent by 2035, fifty per cent by 2040 and be net zero by 2050.

Picture: X-Press Feeders’ first dual-fuel ship Eco Maestro in Shanghai port. The vessel has been built but is now being equipped.

Also read: X-Press Feeders orders eight container ships that can sail on methanol