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LNG-fuelled supply vessel to undergo ammonia fuel tests

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LNG Industry,

Equinor has announced that it has signed an agreement with Eidesvik Offshore regarding the modification of the Viking Energy supply vessel, to make it capable of covering long distances fuelled by carbon-free ammonia.

Viking Energy was the first LNG-fuelled vessel in Equinor’s fleet in 2003, and became 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.

Equinor claims that it has awarded Eidesvik Offshore a five-year contract, which will take effect from April 2020, when the current contract expires. During the contract period, the supply vessel will 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.

The project will test whether the technology can deliver 100% carbon-free power over long distances. According to the statement, the project plans for the ammonia to meet 60 – 70% 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.

The vessel will transport supplies to installations on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS).

This year, all 19 of the supply vessels on long-term contracts with Equinor will feature battery power and power from shore. Ammonia-fuelled vessels will be a new step in the right direction in the efforts to reduce the carbon footprint from maritime operations.

Cecilie Rønning, Senior Vice President 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.”

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, whilst Prototech will deliver the fuel cell system.

Henriette Undrum, Equinor’s head of future value chains, said: “If we solve this, the ship 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.”

According to the statement, ammonia research on the Viking Energy has a total budget of NOK230 million, with a substantial part of this funded by the EU. In addition to this, the partners also have a good dialogue with Innovasjon Norge and Enova about further potential funding for the project.

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