The Fortescue Green Pioneer has sailed from its base in Singapore to Dubai for COP28 as a symbol to the world of the technology solutions and regulatory changes needed to decarbonise shipping.
Fortescue Executive Chairman and Founder Andrew Forrest AO stated, "At the moment the regulatory landscape does not allow for ammonia ships to operate.
"Now it is up to the world's ports to insist that their logistics do not harbour those who seek to hide from their responsibility to turn away from pollution.
"Now that green ammonia is emerging as a bulk marine fuel, it is now the time of the great ports of the world to become capable of pollution free shipping. All administrations of good character will not use inaction and excuses to stand in the road of progress to decarbonise one of the world's dirtiest industries.
"This is seriously limiting the progress of the decarbonisation of shipping. I look to the leadership of the world's ports to make clear that running the world's global shipping on dirty bunker fuel has to stop, as we have a pollution free alternative."
Together with leading maritime engineers and innovators, Fortescue has spent the past 18 months developing the systems, processes and technology needed to safely run the Green Pioneer as a green ammonia dual-fuel ship.
One of the most significant and fastest marine innovation platforms, the vessel is today sitting proudly in the waters of the Dubai Harbour Marina.
Fortescue successfully retrofitted a four-stroke engine to run on a blend of ammonia and diesel at its Perth testing facility earlier this year, marking a major milestone in its pursuit of a global shipping industry no longer reliant on fossil fuels.
Fortescue has since installed an entire gas fuel delivery system and converted two of the four engines on the proof-of-concept Green Pioneer in Singapore to enable the vessel to run in dual-fuel mode on ammonia and diesel. Fortescue is now continuing to pursue its broader plan for a world-first fuel transfer and marine vessel with approval to use ammonia as a fuel.
Fortescue has also pioneered and implemented new, ammonia-specific safety and fuel handling courses in conjunction with an accredited Singapore learning institution to ensure all seafarers can be inducted and operate in a safe and controlled manner with ammonia fuel on-board. This training can now be extended to the wider industry to enable the safe and wider roll-out of ammonia as a marine fuel.
Due to the lack of appropriate regulations that Dr Forrest has called on world ports to change, the vessel will not be carrying ammonia or demonstrating the use of ammonia as a fuel while in Dubai. However, when the vessel returns to Singapore which has made itself ammonia capable, the Company will complete commissioning to enable it to perform a world-first ammonia transfer and reach final flag and class approval to enable it to operate ammonia dual-fuel engines on the water and use ammonia as a fuel.
Green ammonia is produced using renewable energy, so a green ammonia-based alternative to diesel would be considered a game-changer for reducing the carbon footprint of the world's shipping industry, which would be the sixth-largest polluter in the world if it were a country.
While the technological advances are encouraging, Fortescue is using the gathering of the international community at COP28 to call on all enablers – including governments, port authorities, regulators, training institutions and development banks – to move at pace by ensuring the appropriate settings are in place for the use of ammonia as an alternative shipping fuel.