Cyprus’ Lemissoler plans to expand its fleet with up to eight methanol-fuelled ultramax bulkers.

Chief executive Philippos Philis told TradeWinds that the owner has teamed up with Shanghai Merchant Ship Design & Research Institute, known as Sdari, on the design of the 65,000-dwt vessel, Lem65ePlus.

Classification society American Bureau of Shipping has issued approval in principle for the design.

Lemissoler said the ship has been thoroughly optimised and a review shows that it exceeds Energy Efficiency Design Index Phase 3 standards.

Philis plans to order four firm vessels with an option for four more.

“We are in talks with Chinese shipyards over the newbuildings and we hope to ink a letter of intent in the next few weeks,” he said.

“Why methanol? We believe the supply of this fuel will be made available gradually worldwide. We also believe in methanol as a fuel that has been in use since 2016.

ABS presents the approval in principle for the Lem65ePlus to Lemissoler at Marintec China 2023. Photo: Irene Ang

“We at Lemissoler are once again pioneering new technological and innovative designs for our dry bulk fleet. The collaboration with Sdari and ABS proves how much can be achieved collectively. This new evolution design is another step toward Lemissoler’s target to become net zero by 2045.

“We hope to motivate others [shipping companies] to follow … More green ships in the market will push suppliers to manufacture more alternative fuels.”

Vassilios Kroustallis, ABS senior vice president of global business development, said: “Methanol is a promising fuel source to reduce shipping emissions, and this new design from Lemissoler is an exciting opportunity for China shipbuilding to show leadership once again in the decarbonisation of our industry.”

Lemissoler has a fleet of 12 supramax/ultramax bulk carriers with an average age of five years.

The last time it ordered newbuildings was in 2017, when it contracted four ultramaxes at China’s New Times Shipbuilding.