Pioneering Methanol-Enabled Mainliner Completes Inaugural Journey

Pioneering Methanol-Enabled Mainliner Completes Inaugural Journey
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The ANE MAERSK, a groundbreaking vessel equipped to run on methanol, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully completing its maiden voyage from Asia to Europe. Operated by the Maersk Group, this 16,592 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) mainliner journeyed westward from Ningbo, China, covering approximately 15,800 nautical miles before reaching its final European destination at Le Havre, France.

During its voyage, the ANE MAERSK made port calls at several key locations including Shanghai, Nansha, Yantian, Tanjung Pelepas, Colombo, Tanger Med, Felixstowe, Hamburg, Antwerp, London Gateway, and Le Havre. The return journey to the Far East included another stop at Tanger Med.

The trip, spanning a little over 62 days, demonstrated the prevalence of slow-steaming practices in container shipping, with the vessel’s average speed rarely exceeding 16 knots. Notably, the ship spent approximately 76% of its voyage time at sea and 24% in port.

While the ANE MAERSK achieved slightly higher speeds on certain legs of the journey, such as reaching up to 18 knots from Colombo to Tanger Med, the overall emphasis remained on fuel-saving measures. Slow-steaming is expected to become even more commonplace in the future due to the rising use of low-carbon fuels, which will further influence the cost structure of liner shipping.

Despite its innovative technology, the ANE MAERSK currently operates in mixed services alongside conventional vessels. However, industry analysts anticipate Maersk’s eventual consolidation of methanol-enabled ships into optimized loops, reflecting the evolving cost dynamics associated with these vessels and alternative bunker fuels.

Regarding the economics of methanol, recent estimates suggest varying costs depending on factors such as production method and energy source. Bio-methanol is priced at up to USD 1,000 per ton, while green e-methanol ranges from USD 1,100 to 2,400 per ton. Long-term projections indicate a potential decline in the price of green methanol to approximately USD 300—600 per ton.

The successful voyage of the ANE MAERSK marks a significant step forward in the adoption of alternative fuels within the maritime industry, showcasing both the feasibility and potential economic benefits of methanol-enabled vessels on global shipping routes.

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