Singapore’s Sembcorp Marine (Sembmarine) is looking to expand on opportunities presented by the energy transition, announcing plans to build the world’s first zero-emission fuel tanker.

The company's LMG Marin subsidiary has secured a contract to design a green ammonia-fuelled tanker, the MS Green Ammonia, for Grieg Maritime Group’s dedicated innovation unit, Grieg Edge.

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From 2024, the vessel will transport and distribute green ammonia fuel from a production facility in Berlevag, Norway, to Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole, to replace coal-fired power.

The MS Green Ammonia will itself also be powered by the emissions-free fuel, which Sembmarine said would make it a “zero-emission vessel”.

Green ammonia is produced with hydrogen derived from water electrolysis powered by renewable-energy sources, such as wind and solar, resulting in zero emissions.

In contrast, conventional “grey ammonia” is manufactured by mixing hydrogen and atmospheric nitrogen under pressure, with the production of every tonne of grey ammonia producing two tonnes of carbon dioxide.

“The world’s energy transition is under way and the marine industry has been proactive in driving the industry forward towards a greener future,” Sembmarine chief executive Wong Weng Sun said.

“This exciting period of change also opens up new business possibilities and opportunities. Sembcorp Marine is determined to leverage its deep engineering expertise and state-of-the-art facilities to create green waves for a more sustainable offshore and marine industry, globally.”

Sembmarine, which has traditionally been a significant player in the offshore oil and gas industry, has been showing an increased focus on renewables and “green solutions” in recent years, as it looks to rebalance its product solutions portfolio amid the energy transition.

A prolonged downturn in oil and gas exploration and development, which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and global energy transition to lower emissions, were also key factors behind Sembmarine announcing earlier this year it was in talks with fellow Singaporean company Keppel over a potential merger.

At the time, Sembmarine said the potential merger would provide an opportunity to accelerate the company’s pivot to the energy transition, including offshore renewables, while still capitalising on gas and other production facilities.