SVITZER is converting its fleet of 10 tugs in London and Medway to be powered by marine biofuel after a successful trial.

The company said replacing marine fuel oil with the carbon-neutral biofuel enables Svitzer to offer a new towage service – Ecotow – to its customers, unlocking about 90% carbon dioxide reduction in Scope 3 emissions from their towage operations.

The company is offering Ecotow both directly in London for customers whose vessels require towage services on the Thames, and for global customers by giving them the opportunity to inset fossil-fuelled towage elsewhere in their value chain. Svitzer said it achieves this by calculating the emissions impact of towage operations for Ecotow customers and matching this impact with a volume of biofuel to be delivered to the London-based fleet.

Initially, Svitzer’s five tugs serving the Isle of Grain LNG terminal in the Medway, have been running entirely on hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) biofuel since 15 November 2021.

Grain LNG commercial director Nicola Duffin said, “We are delighted that the Svitzer fleet servicing the terminal will be running on biofuel. Grain LNG is proud to be working with a partner committed to making the necessary investments to reduce emissions. This is an important step towards achieving carbon neutrality in the sector”.


By January, all 10 of Svitzer’s tugs in London will operate using HVO biofuel. The decision to scale up biofuel use across the London fleet follows the successful completion of the industry-first biofuel trial onboard Svitzer Intrepid, which has been running on biofuel since September 2021.

Svitzer Europe managing director Lise Demant said, “This is an exciting and big step towards the decarbonisation of towage. Ecotow enables us to offer our customers an opportunity to reduce their Scope 3 emissions and their environmental footprint, either by procuring towage services delivered by tugs fuelled with biofuel, or by insetting carbon emissions from tug jobs elsewhere against savings generated in London and Medway”.

Svitzer considers HVO a crucial first step in the roadmap towards a carbon neutral towage sector, a requirement increasingly being driven by customer demands. Today’s announcement will enable Svitzer to responsibly expand the Ecotow offering to more of Svitzer’s global operations.

Svitzer head of Ecotow Sven Lumber said, “It is only sensible that we look to scale up the use of biofuel at the right time in line with helping our customers to navigate their decarbonisation trajectories. The transition to wider adoption of alternative fuels in towage will ultimately happen faster if customers are accepting of the technology and understand the cost/benefit balance, so we remain committed to testing solutions that will work for them”.