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BHP unveils world’s first LNG-powered ore carrier

SINGAPORE (CNA) – BHP Group unveiled the world’s first liquefied natural gas-fuelled bulk carrier vessel in Singapore yesterday, one of five vessels the mining giant will take delivery of in 2022 in efforts to curb supply chain emissions.

The 299 metre long Mt Tourmaline Newcastlemax ore carrier was built by Eastern Pacific Shipping in China and stopped off in Singapore to take on LNG fuel.

It will next head to Port Hedland in Western Australia to load iron ore that will then be shipped to customers in China.

BHP, which is the world’s largest miner and shipper of dry bulk commodities, is targetting net zero greenhouse gas emissions from its value chain by 2050.

It views its fleet of LNG-powered bulkers as a key means to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants over the near term even as a majority of its fleet still runs on high-emitting fuel oil.

BHP Chief Commercial Officer Vandita Pant said the LNG vessels would lower emissions by about 30 per cent per journey.

“That reduces our emissions for our customers and for our suppliers,” she said at the vessel launch at Jurong port in Singapore. While the vessel can also still burn traditional very low sulphur fuel oil, BHP intends to use LNG to power Mt Tourmaline as much as possible, said Pant.

BHP’s head of maritime supply chain Rashpal Bhatti said the engine and tank set up on the new vessels will allow the company to adjust the type of gas used from “LNG as we know it right now” to more energy-dense and bio-LNG fuels that are expected to be developed in the future It can also be retrofitted with “a little bit of capital expenditure to also burn ammonia”, he said.