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Maersk Adds Yokohama to List of Potential Methanol-Bunkering Hubs

APMT's terminal at Yokohama is the biggest facility of its kind in Japan (APMT file image)
APMT's terminal at Yokohama is the biggest facility of its kind in Japan (APMT file image)

Published Dec 28, 2023 6:36 PM by The Maritime Executive

Number-two container carrier Maersk is moving forward with its planned expansion of a methanol-fueled option for shipping. As green methanol does not currently exist as a globally traded industrial commodity, Maersk is setting up its own fuel supply in each geography where it operates - including Japan. 

On Wednesday, Maersk announced that it has signed an MoU with the city of Yokohama and Mitsubishi Gas Chemical to set up green methanol bunkering infrastructure. Maersk's new 16,000-TEU class methanol-powered ULCVs will begin to deliver next year, and the carrier wants to have a location in Japan where they can refuel. Yokohama will be the spot, the partners announced.

Maersk plans to gradually transition to zero-carbon fuels by 2040, beginning with 25 newbuilds that can run on green methanol (or fuel oil if required). 

"As shipping companies increasingly prioritize decarbonization efforts, the availability of green fuel bunkering options and the feasibility to carry out the operation in Japan becomes paramount," said Maersk NE Asia director Toru Nishiyama. "We are delighted to join forces with the City of Yokohama, renowned for its leadership in establishing green shipping corridors in Japan, and Mitsubishi Gas Chemical, a pioneer in domestic methanol production."

The city of Yokohama's port and harbor bureau is the planning, management construction and maintenance agency for the Port of Yokohama, which has the biggest and deepest-draft container terminal in Japan. That terminal happens to be operated by APMT, Maersk's port facility arm. It is the only terminal in Japan that can serve vessels over 14,000 TEU, and therefore the only Japanese terminal that can serve Maersk's largest methanol-powered boxships (fully laden). 

"Yokohama aims to spearhead the development of Japan's green shipping corridors while also aiming to explore and invite more like-minded future partners to join the initiative," said Dr. Takeharu Yamanaka, the mayor of Yokohama.