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Towage operator Svitzer to switch 10-tug fleet to marine biofuel

Svitzer, leading global towage operator and part of A.P. Moller-Maersk, announced Nov. 22 that after conducting a successful pilot, it will convert its whole fleet of 10 tugs in London and Medway to be powered by marine biofuel.

Replacing marine fuel oil with the carbon-neutral biofuel enables Svitzer to offer a new towage solution, Ecotow. to its customers, unlocking about 90 percent CO2 reduction in scope 3 emissions from their towage operations. The company is offering Ecotow both directly in London for customers whose vessels require towage services on the Thames, and for global customers by giving them the opportunity to inset fossil-fueled towage elsewhere in their value chain. Svitzer achieves this by calculating the emissions impact of towage operations for Ecotow customers and matching this impact with a volume of biofuel to be delivered to the London-based fleet. Initially, Svitzer’s five tugs serving the Isle of Grain LNG terminal in the Medway had been running entirely on hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) since Nov. 15. The move confirms the operational viability as well as the commercial and environmental value of using biofuel in the towage sector. “We are delighted that the Svitzer fleet servicing the terminal will be running on biofuel,” said Nicola Duffin, commercial director of Grain LNG. “Grain LNG is proud to be working with a partner committed to making the necessary investments to reduce emissions. This is an important step towards achieving carbon neutrality in the sector.”

By January, all 10 of Svitzer’s tugs in London will operate using HVO biofuel, expanding the Ecotow offering even further. The decision to scale up biofuel use across the London fleet follows the successful completion of the trial onboard Svitzer Intrepid, which has been running on biofuel since September.

“This is an exciting and big step towards the decarbonization of towage,” said Lise Demant, managing director for Svitzer Europe. “Ecotow enables us to offer our customers an opportunity to reduce their scope 3 emissions and their environmental footprint, either by procuring towage services delivered by tugs fueled with biofuel, or by ‘insetting’ carbon emissions from tug jobs elsewhere against savings generated in London and Medway.”

Svitzer considers HVO a crucial first step in the roadmap towards a carbon-neutral towage sector; a requirement increasingly being driven by customer demands. This announcement will enable Svitzer to responsibly expand the Ecotow offering to more of its global operations.

“It is only sensible that we look to scale up the use of biofuel at the right time in line with helping our customers to navigate their decarbonization trajectories,” said Sven Lumber, head of Ecotow at Svitzer. “The transition to wider adoption of alternative fuels in towage will ultimately happen faster if customers are accepting of the technology and understand the cost/benefit balance, so we remain committed to testing solutions that will work for them.”

The Ecotow product exclusively uses sustainable second-generation biofuels. These fuels are produced using waste material such as used cooking oil as feedstocks and are certified by ISSC or RSB. Relative to marine diesel, these biofuels reduce carbon emissions by 100 percent on a tank-to-wake basis and about 90 percent on a well-to-wake basis.



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