AUSTRALIA’S Fortescue late last week completed the world’s first use of hydrogen-based ammonia as marine fuel, in the port of Singapore.

The demonstration vessel Fortescue Green Pioneer, previously known as FFI Green Pioneer and converted from the former MMA Offshore anchor handling tug/supply ship MMA Leveque, conducted a seven-week trial with the involvement of the Maritime & Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore, government agencies, research institutes and industry partners.

In 2022 Fortescue successfully converted a four-stroke engine to run on ammonia, which led to the vessel undergoing conversion work in Seatrium’s Benoi yard in Singapore last year with two of its four engines switched to ammonia fuel.  In December last year it was showcased at COP 28 in Dubai, ironically running on diesel as no ammonia bunkering was available.

Back in Singapore in January this year the Singapore-flagged vessel successfully loaded five cubic metres (three tonnes) of liquid ammonia from the existing ammonia infrastructure at Vopak Banyan Terminal on Jurong Island.

MPA said to prepare for the operations, various safety workshops were organised to identify potential risks and develop the necessary safety and mitigation measures. Various trainings and safety drills were conducted to ensure the operational readiness and preparedness of Fortescue Green Pioneer’s crew.

An ammonia plume model was also jointly developed by various research institutes to support the incident response planning and guide the fuel trial operations, and the Emergency Operations Centre was also set up at MPA’s Port Operations Control Centre to monitor the operations via a drone-enabled live stream.

“The successful conduct of this ammonia fuel trial on board the Fortescue Green Pioneer marks a significant milestone in Singapore’s multi-fuel bunkering capability development, to support the digitalisation, decarbonisation, and manpower development for international shipping,” MPA said.

The project originated with Fortescue Future Industries, which has since been brought under the Fortescue unified identity.