THE LIKELIHOOD of ammonia marine bunkering availability in the Pilbara has increased with two Perth-based companies signing an MOU to explore its role in the decarbonisation of the iron ore export supply chain.

Hexagon Energy Materials and Oceania Marine Energy say the collaboration has the potential to create a new Australian business that uses locally-produced low-emissions ammonia to bunker bulk carriers in Dampier.

Under the MOU, Hexagon and Oceania have committed to work together with the intention of:

(a) Demonstrating the feasibility of the supply of low-emissions ammonia as a bunker fuel for iron ore bulk carriers via ship-to-ship transfer;
(b) Confirming demand for ammonia bunkering and potential commercial terms;
(c) Defining an appropriate development plan; and
(d) Engaging with government and other stakeholders.

Hexagon and Oceania say they will jointly engage with ship owners, fuel traders, iron ore producers, port authorities and government) to complete their market assessment, develop an appropriate business model and development plan and pursue preliminary offtake agreements for low-emissions ammonia as a bunker fuel.

It is envisaged that this work will be completed in Q4 2024.

The MOU has a two-year term to allow for subsequent collaboration past the anticipated final investment decision for Hexagon’s flagship WAH2 Project, targeted at suppling  ammonia to the decarbonising powerhouse economies of the Asia Pacific, including Japan and South Korea. Hexagon’s target remains WAH2 front end engineering design (FEED) entry in mid-2024 following completion of planned technical work and finalisation of conditional commercial agreements for key aspects of the project.  

Privately-owned Oceania was established in 2019 by a team of marine industry professionals and has been developing the required feasibility studies, operational practices, agreements and partnerships to operate a low carbon marine bunkering business to serve the Australia-to-Asia deep sea shipping fleet.

Oceania is working closely with Kanfer Shipping of Norway to design and deliver a fleet of marine bunkering vessels that use best-in-class technology to offer operational efficiency and emissions reduction.

In 2022, Oceania completed its feasibility study into the bunkering of ammonia at Dampier. Since then,
it has continued to work with stakeholders towards the establishment of a ‘Green Shipping Corridor’ between Australia and Asia, it says.