Denmark’s Maersk unveils world’s first bio-methanol container ship

European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday christened the world's first bio-methanol container ship, Laura, which joined the fleet of Danish shipping giant Maersk.

Denmark's Maersk unveils world's first bio-methanol container ship
Inauguration of Maersk's first container ship Laura Maersk that sails on green methanol on the Esplanade in Copenhagen on Thursday 14 September 2023. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Built in South Korea by Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) and fitted with a dual-fuel engine, Laura is a relatively small model that will be able to
transport 2,136 20-foot (TEU) containers.

It will begin operating in the Baltic Sea in October, Maersk said.

“Green methanol is our fuel of choice … because it is the only scalable. solution that can meet the net-zero (carbon emissions) requirements,” Maersk chief executive Vincent Clerc said during Thursday’s inauguration ceremony at Copenhagen Harbour.

“Neither we nor the climate can afford complacency or waiting for other solutions to emerge in the late 2020s,” he added.

In line with tradition for christening vessels, van der Leyen then swung a bottle of champagne across the ship’s hull.

Green methanol, also known as “e-methanol”, is composed of waste carbon dioxide (CO2) and “green hydrogen”, which is created by using renewable energy
to split water molecules.

Over the past two years, Maersk, the world leader in container shipping, has ordered 25 vessels that run on green methanol.

Of them, 19 are under construction and should set sail by 2025.

The company estimates this will enable it to reduce its annual carbon dioxide emissions by around 2.3 million tonnes.

Laura alone will help reduce its CO2 emissions by 100 tonnes a day, compared to the same vessel running on fuel oil, it said.

On a global scale, maritime transport is more polluting than air transport, according to the Higher Institute of Maritime Economics (ISEMAR).

The sector accounts for 2.89 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, according to the latest figures published by the International Maritime

Maersk, which sold its oil division to TotalEnergies in 2017, aims to become carbon neutral by 2040.

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Scandinavian Airlines’ loss deepens over fuel costs and weak Swedish krona

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) posted a net loss of almost two billion kronor ($191 million) in its fourth quarter.

Scandinavian Airlines' loss deepens over fuel costs and weak Swedish krona

For its full financial year, which ends in October, SAS’s revenue rose and it cut its net loss to 5.7 billion kronor from seven billion a year earlier.

However, in the fourth quarter alone the net loss widened to 1.9 billion kronor, compared 1.2 billion kronor a year earlier.

“Higher costs from adverse trends in currencies and fuel price cloaked improved operational and commercial performance,” the airline said in its earnings report.

For the full financial year, stronger demand and higher capacity pushed up SAS’s revenue 30 percent to 42 billion kronor.

In July 2022, the airline filed for bankruptcy protection, so called Chapter 11, in the United States, allowing the company to restructure its debt while continuing to operate.

It also launched a massive savings plan and said it was attempting to raise 9.5 billion kronor.

Many of the plan’s measures have “been implemented but cannot be recognised in our financial results until after emergence from Chapter 11,” the company said.

SAS announced in early October that a consortium – including Air France-KLM, investment funds Castlelake and Lind Invest, along with the Danish state – was ready to invest $1.175 billion in the airline.

If the deal goes ahead as planned, Castlelake will ultimately own around 32 percent of the company, the Danish state 25.8 percent, Air France-KLM 19.9 percent and Lind Invest 8.6 percent.

The Swedish state, which like the Danish state currently holds a 21.8 stake, would exit the ownership.

SAS said it hopes to obtain the green light from US courts for its restructuring plan “in early 2024”.