Codelco and NYK Bulk Project move forward to launch ammonia fuel bulker


NYK Bulk Project Co., Ltd., a member of the NYK Group, collaborated with Oshima Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., a member of the Sumitomo Corporation Group, to produce ammonia, which emits almost no greenhouse gases (GHGs). The companies have agreed to consider building 10 to 15 Handymax bulkers that can be used as fuel starting in the late 2020s. 

NBP and Chile's state-owned company Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile (CODELCO) will use the vessel to transport copper products to the Far East, where demand is increasing due to the spread of carbon-free technology, and will handle all aspects of production, transportation, and supply. We aim to realize carbon-free copper products that do not emit GHG during the process.

This construction study is based on a memorandum of understanding signed by Codelco and NBP in November 2022 for joint development aimed at decarbonizing the maritime transportation of copper products. In the future, demand for copper is expected to increase worldwide due to the development of transmission lines for offshore wind power generation and the spread of electric vehicles.

Ammonia has a lower calorific value per unit than heavy oil or liquefied natural gas (LNG), so more is consumed to travel the same distance. This requires larger fuel tanks, making it a big challenge to use ammonia as fuel on the small Handymax. Once completed, the vessel is expected to become the world's first handy max bulker powered by ammonia.

Comment from Codelco Chairman of the Board Máximo Pacheco:

It's an honor to see such progress in such a short period of time. Less than a year after signing the Memorandum of Understanding with NBP, an ambitious idea is becoming a reality. Codelco has an obligation to take the lead in making our country's mining industry more sustainable. This study to build an ammonia-fueled handymax bulker is a major signal that will make Chile the first country in the world to demonstrate the feasibility of energy transition and GHG emission reduction.

NBP CEO Masashi Suda comments:

Based on the memorandum of understanding signed with Codelco on November 24, 2022, we have continued to consider ways to decarbonize the maritime transportation of copper products with the cooperation of all concerned parties. After about a year of consideration, Codelco and our company have concluded a memorandum of understanding for the research, design, and construction of the Handymax, which is equipped with a dual-fuel engine that can use ammonia in addition to heavy oil as fuel. This will be a concrete first step towards realizing a decarbonized society. We will continue to contribute to global decarbonization together with our customers.

About captioned image: Signing ceremony (from left in the photo)
1st: NBP President and Representative Director Masashi Suda
2nd: Oshima Shipbuilding Director Koichi Kawamura
3rd: Sumitomo Corporation Managing Executive Officer Norihiko Nonaka
4th: Codelco Chairman of the Board, Máximo Pacheco

(Note 1) This ship is assumed to be a dual-fuel engine equipped with an engine (main engine) that can use heavy oil and ammonia as fuel.

(Note 2) Handymax bulker
A bulker is a ship that transports large quantities of various resources such as iron ore, coal, grain, cement, salt, and copper concentrate without packaging them. In order of size, they are broadly classified into four types: cape size, panamax, handy max, and handy size.

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