Project Explores U.S. West Coast Supply Chain for Ammonia as Marine Fuel

CALMACO ammonia
Feasibility study will look at the facilities for ammonia at CALMACO's terminal (CALMACO)

Published Apr 1, 2024 9:00 PM by The Maritime Executive


A first-of-kind project is getting underway to conduct a feasibility study for ammonia as a marine fuel. The study aims to be one of the pioneers in establishing a comprehensive and competitive supply chain for the provision of clean ammonia ship-to-ship bunkering on the U.S. West Coast.

The project involves industry leaders including the American Bureau of Shipping, Fleet Management, Sumitomo Corporation, and TOTE Services, and they will be working with CALAMCO, a California-based cooperative that is the largest ammonia distributor in California. The project will focus on the Port of Oakland, Benicia, and nearby major ports on the U.S. West Coast.

“We are excited to support the exploration of ammonia bunkering in the US West Coast,” said Dan Stone, President at CALAMCO. “As one of the few ammonia storage and handling facilities in the geographical area, CALAMCO is well positioned to serve the growing needs of the maritime industry.” 

Safety assessments are critical to formulate standards for the use of ammonia as a marine fuel due to the toxicity of the substance. Relevant government agencies and experts in the U.S. will be engaged in working towards the standardization of safe operation and regulations. ABS will share its expertise in ammonia as a marine fuel and in developing safety guidelines to support this study.

The study aims to explore the possibility of utilizing CALAMCO’s existing ammonia storage terminal at the port of Stockton for a pilot demonstration project of ammonia bunkering for car carriers calling at the port of Benicia and container vessels calling at the port of Oakland as a first step toward wide adoption of ammonia as marine fuel in the U.S. West Coast. The Port of Benicia is one of the key vehicle-handing ports on the U.S. West Coast, while the Port of Oakland also ranks among the top 10 of the U.S. largest container ports.

Singapore highlighted that it recently completed similar studies permitting it to complete the first bunkering of ammonia as a marine fuel. At the beginning of this year, three tonnes of liquid ammonia were loaded from Vopak’s terminal in Singapore to a converted offshore vessel that is the first to operate on ammonia. Singapore completed extensive testing and training, and developed safety protocols to permit the bunkering. They were planning a second bunkering of an additional three tonnes of liquid ammonia for the Fortescue Green Pioneer in the next few weeks.