Shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk and parent AP Moller Holding have formed a joint venture to produce green methanol “at scale”.

The new independent company, called C2X, will build, own and operate production assets.

Maersk has been buying up third-party green methanol supplies to fuel its fleet of newbuilding container ships, but this move will give it more control over its bunker procurement.

The companies said methanol is already one of the most traded chemical commodities globally and is a fundamental building block in plastics, glues and textiles.

“However, the methanol used today is almost exclusively made from fossil fuel sources, with natural gas and coal being the most common feedstocks. This can be directly replaced by new supplies of green methanol made from e-methanol, based on renewable energy, or bio-methanol from agricultural and forestry crops and waste,” they added.

C2X is majority-owned by AP Moller Holding, with Maersk as a 20% minority partner, following a “successful” but unspecified fundraising round.

AP Moller Holding chief executive Robert Maersk Uggla said: “There is a pressing environmental requirement to scale the production of green methanol. C2X was founded to enable the energy transition in several hard-to-abate industries, including plastics, glues, textiles, and fuels.”

“I am delighted to see the talented team, who has joined C2X, and the strong interest from partners and prospective customers to support the venture’s important purpose and development,” he added.

C2X’s new website forecasts that towards 2050, the demand for methanol could triple to 300m tonnes per year, with most of this being green methanol.

“The green methanol industry is nascent and new technologies are emerging, and we will work hard to drive down our production costs over time,” the company added.

Experienced team in place

“There is a strong customer pull and regulatory support, and at C2X we are confident that, together with our partners, we can deliver at scale,” it said.

The aim is to have production capacity of more than 3m tonnes per year.

There is already a team of 60 people in place, with backgrounds in chemicals, renewables, construction of mega-projects, shipping and finance.

“We are pursuing advantaged and scalable green methanol projects located near the Suez Canal in Egypt and the port of Huelva in Spain, as well as other opportunities across several geographies,” C2X said.

Brian Davis has been appointed CEO of C2X and comes with 35 years of energy industry knowledge at Shell and other companies spanning the entire energy value chain.

Former Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs banker Alastair Maxwell is chief financial officer.

Equinor supplying fuel

This month, Maersk tapped oil major Equinor for green methanol for its new dual-fuel feeder ship.

The bunkers will be supplied for the vessel’s initial months of operation from September and into the first half of 2024.

The agreement ensures green methanol supply for the ship from its entry into operation on a loop from northern Europe into the Baltic Sea after the name-giving ceremony later this month in Copenhagen.

The world’s first methanol-powered boxship was initially referred to as the Maersk Solstice.

The green methanol will be bunkered in Rotterdam.

In the long term, the feeder vessel will be fuelled by e-methanol from a plant in southern Denmark, operated by European Energy. This is expected to come on stream in the first half of 2024.

Maersk has 24 additional methanol vessels on order for delivery between 2024 and 2027 and has a policy to only order new ships that come with a green fuel option.