Norwegian oil major Equinor has signed an agreement with Eidesvik Offshore for the modification of the Viking Energy supply vessel for covering long distances fuelled by carbon-free ammonia.
Equinor said on Thursday that the vessel would be used to transport supplies to installations on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS).
The company awarded Eidesvik Offshore a five-year contract with effect from April 2020 earlier this week, when the current contract expires. The Viking Energy supply vessel will in the contract period be part of a research project developing, installing, and testing long-distance sailing fuelled by carbon-free ammonia fuel cells. The technology will be tested on the vessel from 2024.
Cecilie Rønning, SVP for Equinor’s joint operations support, said: “Equinor aims to reduce the emissions in our supply chain, and regards the use of ammonia as a promising solution. Viking Energy may become the first supply vessel in the world covering long distances fuelled by pure carbon-free ammonia.”
Equinor launched a joint ambition with Konkraft earlier this year to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas operations in Norway by 40 percent by 2030, and to near zero by 2050.
In a separate statement, Jan Fredrik Meling, CEO of Eidesvik, said: “In our continuous pursuit for zero-emission shipping solutions we are excited to announce the start of yet another long term cooperation with Equinor to achieve this.
“This is a proud day for all in Eidesvik, and we are pleased to see that our track record of developing environmentally friendly shipping solutions over the previous decades makes us the preferred partner for our clients in such an advanced and future-oriented project.”
The oil major stated that the project would test whether the technology could deliver 100 percent carbon-free power over long distances.
According to the project plans ammonia will meet 60 to 70 percent of the power requirement on board for a test period of one year. Viking Energy will still be able to use LNG as fuel, and the remaining power requirement will be met by battery previously installed by Westcon.
The main partners of the five-year research project are NCE Maritime Cleantech, Eidesvik Offshore, Wärtsilä, Prototech, and Equinor. Wärtsilä will deliver the power technology and ammonia storage and distribution systems. Prototech will deliver the 2MW fuel cell system.
Henriette Undrum, Equinor’s head of future value chains, said: “If we solve this, the shipping industry will for the first time use a fuel that does not generate emissions during combustion. Much work remains, but Equinor will contribute both to technology development and as a customer. We have never before used a carbon-free fuel on a large vessel without range anxiety.”
Ammonia research on Viking Energy has a total budget of NOK 230 million ($25.5 million), a substantial part of which is EU funded. The partners are also negotiating with Innovasjon Norge and Enova about additional funding of the project.
The Viking Energy has already been a part of several greenhouse gas decreasing initiatives. Namely, it was the first LNG-fuelled vessel in Equinor’s fleet in 2003, and the first vessel with hybrid battery power in 2016.
Hybrid battery power and power from shore are now part of the requirements for all supply vessels that sign long-term contracts with Equinor. During 2020 all the 19 supply vessels on long-term contracts with Equinor will feature battery power and power from shore.
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