MSC to Use 30 Percent Biofuel Aboard Vessels Calling Rotterdam

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Published Dec 9, 2019 2:04 PM by The Maritime Executive

Number-two container carrier MSC announced Friday that it has started to use biofuels for bunkering vessels calling in Rotterdam, and it intends to increase the blend proportion from 10 to 30 percent. The fuel will be used on a routine basis going forward. 

“We are pleased to see these trials completed successfully and look forward to now using biofuel on our vessels as a routine matter. When using such blended fuel, we can expect an estimated 15-20 percent reduction in absolute CO2 emissions,” said Bud Darr, Executive Vice President, Maritime Policy & Government Affairs, MSC Group. “The potential CO2 reduction in the bio component of these fuels could reach 80-90 percent, which we will monitor and confirm over time." 

In a statement, MSC said that the biofuel is responsibly sourced but did not identify the supplier. 

Number-one carrier AP Moller-Maersk and number-four carrier CMA CGM have also trialed biofuels at Rotterdam, along with top dredging companies Jan de Nul and Boskalis. The primary biofuel bunker provider in Rotterdam is the startup GoodFuels, which is working with technology group BTG to build a commercial-scale refinery for converting crude pyrolysis oil into synthetic, renewable bunker fuel. Pyrolysis oil is made from biomass-based waste products like sawdust and grass cuttings, not from the land- and resource-intensive edible crops used to make most over-the-road biodiesel fuels. As cellulosic feedstock can be sourced from a variety of waste streams, it has potential for sustainable scalability. 

MSC's 560-vessel fleet includes ships that do not call Rotterdam, the sole location affected by the announcement. 

MSC's announcement comes at about the same time as a new report from environmental NGO Transport and Environment on the carbon footprint of the shipping industry. According to T&E's calculations, MSC is the eighth-largest single carbon emitter in Europe with an annual output of about 11 million tonnes per year, approximately on par with some of the largest German coal-fired powerplants.