Idan Ofer’s Eastern Pacific Shipping has signed a preliminary contract to order one or more gas carriers from Hyundai Heavy Industries which will be the first to use a new dual-fuel ammonia engine.

Ofer’s team hope that it is an initiative alongside an ammonia bunkering trial in Singapore that will help catalyse the use of the low-carbon fuel.

The memorandum of understanding was signed during Posidonia in Greece on Monday to build the new class of tankers capable of carrying LPG and ammonia, markets where the company already has a strong position. It was signed on the deck of Ofer’s vessel Better Space moored off the Astir Palace Hotel.

The delivery schedule, price and size and number of ships is not yet known.

Singapore-based Eastern Pacific said: “The MoU states the dual-fuel ammonia tanker could be either midsize gas carrier(s), large gas carrier(s), or very large gas carrier(s) and could be delivered as early as 2025.”

The newbuilding will be the first to use MAN Energy Solutions’ G60 two-stroke dual-fuel ammonia engine, it is claimed.

Eastern Pacific said its commitment to the new technology showed its willingness to invest in new low-carbon fuelling options such as ammonia, to help create pathways to wider adoption.

Ammonia-ready vessels currently on order will require a major retrofit to burn the fuel when it becomes commercially available, Eastern Pacific argued.

Eastern Pacific signing an MOU with Hyundai Heavy Industries for an ammonia dual-fuel gas carrier. Also signing were American Bureau of Shipping and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore. Photo: EPS

In addition to the shipowner and shipyard, other signatories to the deal were the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and American Bureau of Shipping (ABS).

Eastern Pacific chief executive Cyril Ducau said: “The use of ammonia as a marine fuel is the next logical step for EPS and the industry. I am pleased that EPS, MPA, HHI and ABS have come together on what will certainly be a pivotal moment in our energy transition.”

He added that the company believes the industry needs to rely on multiple solutions to steadily reduce and then eliminate carbon emissions.

“That’s why it is critical for us to constantly invest and develop various alternative marine fuels in order to offer the right solution to the right segment at the right time,” Ducau said.

MPA chief executive Quah Ley Hoon attended the event alongside Singapore transport minister Chee Hong Tat.

“MPA is excited to be part of the EPS-led joint project to develop EPS’ first ocean-going ammonia dual-fuel gas tanker,” Quah said.

“EPS’ decision to register their new ammonia fuelled gas carriers under the Singapore flag signifies an important milestone in our journey towards green shipping.”

Eastern Pacific is part of a pilot ammonia bunker project with Singapore’s Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation.

Among others present at the signing were Idan’s son Gil Ofer, Eastern Pacific’s Thomas Preben Hansen, ABS chief executive Chris Wiernicki, and Clarksons chief executive Andi Case and his shipbroking colleagues.