Shell sets out its stall on decarbonisation pathways

‘We would like the IMO to use its 2023 strategy review to set the trajectory for the sector to move to net-zero emissions by 2050,’ says the energy major in a new report published today.

In Decarbonising Shipping: Setting Shell’s Course, the company reviews the alternative marine fuel options in the context of IMO 2030 and 2050 targets, and outlines its own decarbonisation projects and strategies.

This latest report builds on the Decarbonising Shipping: All Hands on Deck study published in July this year by Shell and Deloitte.

In the new study, Shell says it sees potential in hydrogen and fuel cells, noting that: ‘We believe liquid hydrogen to be advantaged over other potential zero-emissions fuels for shipping, therefore giving a higher likelihood of success.’

However, it remains unconvinced about a wide take-up of methanol as a fuel and battery and nuclear technologies. It references the findings of the All Hands on Deck report which ‘found little support for these three options, with potential problems including long sea voyages requiring large scale battery units, methanol’s pathway to zero emissions is considered less efficient than other zero-emissions fuel options that may be available, and social anxiety about nuclear power.’

Biofuels are seen as having a role to play as they can be used by the present global fleet ‘during the years it will take for these vessels to be fully phased out’.

As one of the prime movers in LNG-fuelled shipping, Shell remains committed to this particular path, noting that compared to heavy fuel oil, from extraction to combustion LNG reduces greenhouse gas emissions by up to 21% for 2-stroke slow speed engines and up to 15% for 4-stroke medium speed engines.

It also points to the emissions reduction benefits of using LNG in combination with fuel cells. Shell modelling is said to indicate that a ship using a high-efficiency LNG fuel cell and adopting other energy-efficient technologies could potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% versus the IMO’s 2008 baseline.

The company also says it is supportive of ‘putting a price on carbon emissions from the shipping sector to provide the additional economic incentive to develop new technologies’.

Such a pricing mechanism would also need to consider ‘how best to direct its revenue towards in-sector research and development’.

‘Shell would like to see the IMO adopt more ambitious targets for 2050, 2040 and 2030,’ noted the report. ‘We would like the IMO to use its 2023 strategy review to set the trajectory for the sector to move to net-zero emissions by 2050’

‘The shipping industry needs to develop the new technologies, fuels and infrastructure required for a net-zero emissions sector at a pace never previously seen,’ said Grahaeme Henderson, Global Head of Shell Shipping & Maritime.

‘This will require the determination of all of those at the forefront of this transition. We have listened to our customers and partners in the sector and we have set ourselves an ambitious course. I hope that by doing so, openly and transparently, others will be encouraged to join us and help create a net-zero emissions future for shipping.’

Turning to the steps it will take to move towards net-zero emissions shipping, Shell said these will include developing standards for the use of hydrogen in a marine environment and enabling commercial deployment of hydrogen across sectors; establishing a consortium to develop and trial fuel cells on a commercial deep-sea vessel; and developing a set of performance standards for application on future new-build vessels for all ship types, with the aim to deliver up to 25% emissions savings.

The company will also implement a programme of emissions data collection across its internationally traded time and voyage charters with the intention of publishing annual carbon intensity data.

It also stated its intention to double its existing LNG bunkering infrastructure on key international trade routes by the mid-2020s.

Stakeholder collaboration will also be a key part of the decarbonisation journey as well, and Shell highlighted that its response to the challenge ‘will evolve over time’.

‘There is no single technology which will achieve this, and it will be a multi-decade journey,’ it said.

The full report can be accessed here

Lesley Bankes-Hughes

Lesley Bankes-Hughes