Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell is teaming up with Italian-Swiss shipping giant Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) to speed up the decarbonisation of the shipping industry.

MSC confirmed the pair had signed a long-term memorandum of understanding to develop a range of technologies that could reduce emissions from existing assets and help to "enable a net-zero emissions future" for shipping.

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Shell and MSC will explore a range of fuel options to decarbonise the shipping sector, including hydrogen-derived fuels and the use of methanol as a marine fuel.

The partnership will also explore opportunities to use liquefied natural gas in MSC’s fleet, which they stated was the “lowest emissions fuel widely available today”, while also considering methane-slip abatement technologies to further reduce LNG emissions.

They also noted they had already been exploring the potential benefits of switching from LNG to bio-LNG, or synthetic variants, to further decrease emissions.

Bio-LNG is a biofuel made via the anaerobic digestion of organic matter — such as household, agricultural and industrial waste — which results in the production of biogas. The methane in the biogas is then separated from the carbon dioxide and liquefied to make bio-LNG.

“Shell wants to play a central role in the transition to net zero. Partnering with our customers to develop new technologies and fuels will help accelerate progress,” Shell Marine president Melissa Williams said.

“Combining MSC’s experience as one of the world’s largest shipping companies with Shell’s expertise as a global energy supplier will help bring about effective solutions for this vital part of the world economy.”

MSC’s executive vice president of maritime policy and government affairs, Bud Darr, added the company’s partnership with Shell was an example of the commitment needed to catalyse low-carbon solutions for the shipping sector.

“To reach that ultimate goal of complete decarbonisation, we must look at a set of solutions. We need significant advances in research and development and fuel development,” he said.

“MSC welcomes partnerships like this with Shell that are designed to facilitate cross-sector information sharing and prove how collaboration is key in defining the best pathway to a net-zero future.”

The MoU builds on more than 10 years of collaboration between the companies, with the pair having already worked together on a number of projects, including bunkering biofuels and trialling very and ultra-low sulphur fuels.

The latest MoU also includes scope for the companies to jointly engage with industry and stakeholders on strategic policy issues to accelerate decarbonisation of the shipping sector.