Could Maersk Be the New Musk with a DIY Clean Fuel Strategy?

Could Maersk Be the New Musk with a DIY Clean Fuel Strategy?

Legacy industries are rarely at the forefront of new technology breakthroughs for the obvious reason that they have assets soaked in old technology to protect them.

The idea that oil companies will be at the forefront of providing carbon-neutral fuels in the future may be more hopeful than experience.

It was the new PC companies, such as Apple, that pushed the former giants of the market such as IBM to a standstill.

old brands

And most recently, it was Elon Musk’s Tesla models that really put the car into electric cars and turned it into the mainstream.

Now of course, all the old brands like Volkswagen and Ford are busy producing new electric cars to keep up with Tesla, which can’t produce enough to keep up with demand.

Shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk appears to have already developed this model. Which is why I suggested this week – just as the COP27 climate talks began in Sharm el-Sheikh – that it was setting up a fuel deal with the Spanish government.

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The Danish group appears to have concluded that if they wanted carbon-neutral bunkers for their massive fleet, they might have to provide them themselves.

That’s why Maersk CEO Soren Scu met Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to sign a cooperation protocol this week to explore opportunities for green energy production in the European country.

Morten Bo Christiansen, head of decarbonization at Maersk, was somewhat more focused in his comments.

“Today we buy our fuel from oil companies,” he said. But they never offered us any green methanol at a price we could accept.

“You thought your current supplier would help you find the new juice. But that hasn’t been the case yet.”

The likes of Shell, BP and other major oil companies will argue that they are already working hard on how to make methanol and other new fuels work commercially, starting with production from natural gas.

Oil companies talk a lot about methanol and even more hydrogen, but it stands to reason that their real interest lies in finding a cleaner home for fossil fuels.

The conversation of oil executives tends to be full of references to how much it costs to make these new fuels from renewables compared to making them with gas. They want natural gas to be the “transitional” fuel. You can understand why.

Sure, oil companies can’t say they don’t have the money for research and development, given record quarterly profits from rising commodity prices.

IBM’s PC system for home and school use was pioneered in 1981, but the brand lost its luster in the PC niche when new players emerged, such as Apple. Photo: Scanpix

fuel dilemma

But there is a need to break through this fuel stalemate if we are to meet the rules of the Paris climate agreement, which was aimed at trying to prevent global temperatures from rising 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

Most scientists in Egypt this week say that’s nearly impossible, but the implications of just sailing to two degrees Celsius or more are profound.

Sir David King, former chief scientist in the UK government, said this week that there is “no carbon budget” and that for a safe world we must take in carbon dioxide now.2 out of the atmosphere and make sweeping policy changes in the next five years or face a complete disintegration of global trade by 2050.

However, carbon capture and storage technology is expensive and does not currently resemble the required scale. King talks about geoengineering: giant aerosols in space and some, but who is going to regulate this in a safe and controlled manner?

Meanwhile, Maersk, which has 19 methanol ships on order entering its container fleet between 2023 and 2025, is taking matters into its own hands. The Copenhagen-based company estimates it needs 6 million tons per year of green methanol to reach its decarbonization goals by 2030.

Skou said the Spain deal has the potential to provide a third of this from a variety of production opportunities in Galicia and Andalusia. The great coastline and strategic location of Spain is a great opportunity to refuel for merchant ships.

Fortunately, her windfall profits in recent years have left her in a position to make significant investments. Not many shipping companies are in a very comfortable position – or have management set about the climate crisis.

But oil companies need to up their game or risk being left behind like IBM.

#Maersk #Musk #DIY #Clean #Fuel #Strategy

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