Finnish firms testing liquefied biogas as shipping fuel

Steel manufacturer SSAB Raahe is testing biogas from Gasum as an alternative maritime transport fuel. The test will be carried out in collaboration with ESL Shipping and Gasum and is the first time that biogas will be used as a fuel for ships in Finland.

The three companies are working together to reduce emissions from shipping SSAB’s raw materials. In 2019, SSAB and ESL introduced a new transport chain that, compared with its predecessor, nearly halved the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions originating in shipping SSAB’s raw materials between Luleå, Oxelösund, and Raahe.

ESL’s new ships Viikkki and Haaga are fuelled by liquefied natural gas (LNG) rather than conventional fuels. Now, these companies are piloting the use of liquefied biogas (LBG) as a supplementary fuel to further replace fossil fuels. Efforts towards removing fossil CO2 emissions from the transport chain would require replacing all LNG with LBG and replacing the diesel fuel currently used to power the ship’s engine with biodiesel.

In the test that took place on 11 June, M/S Viikki was fuelled with LNG and one tanker load of LBG, which was brought to SSAB Raahe from the Gasum Terminal in Pori. “With this test, we aim to find out whether biogas could be used in small amounts for maritime transport to reduce emissions,” said Harri Leppänen, head of environment, health, and safety at SSAB. “The methane in biogas originates from biogenic material and so does not contain any fossil coal. This means the amount of biogas used in the test could further reduce the fossil CO2 emissions originating in this transport chain by between 25% and 28%.”

Jacob Granqvist, maritime sales director at Gasum, commented: “The test with ESL and SSAB is in line with our strategy to bring cleaner fuels to our customers. We are all the time increasing our biogas production and sourcing to meet growing demand for our customers. We are already in discussions with ESL about running vessels Viikki and Haaga on 100% LBG.”

SSAB’s overall goal is to launch fossil-free steel on the market as the world’s first steel company as early as 2026. The whole company aims to be fossil-free by 2045.

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