Speaking at The Fuel of the Future event the boss of the liner giant noted that LNG offers an immediate 20% carbon reduction, enables the use of low-carbon drop-in fuels, and ultimately paves the way for new forms of low-carbon LNG using the same shipboard components and systems.
Toft, who moved from Maersk to head what is now the world’s largest container line in December 2020, drew attention to the collaboration agreement MSC signed with Shell in July 2021 focusing on LNG as fuel, and work with Wärtsilä on reducing methane slip. However, the CEO confirmed that the company is also studying hydrogen, ammonia, and methanol as contributors to the future energy mix.
Customers are keen to partner with the container line and benefit from new fuels, he said, and retrofits on existing vessels are definitely a priority. The company is installing Silverstream air lubrication technology, monitors hull condition, uses robots to clean them, and has adopted latest route planning and other digital performance-optimising technologies.
He emphasised MSC support for the IMO’s $5bn research and development fund which many were disappointed failed to get the go-ahead at the IMO’s most recent MEPC meeting in November. This, despite leading entities in shipping, including MSC, offering to provide funding.
Toft also noted that the fuel transition is likely to cost trillions of dollars and new fuels may be three or four times more expensive than those of today. Although these prices may come down, new fuels will still be much more expensive, which is why carbon pricing is urgently required to narrow the gap.
Toft’s former employers, and MSC alliance partner and container shipping rival, Maersk, have eschewed LNG opting for the nascent fuel of green methanol to provide an immediate jump to zero carbon shipping.