Maritime biofuel-pilot a great success

The Mette Maersk container vessel has returned safely to Rotterdam after a three- month roundtrip from Rotterdam to Shanghai. It sailed for a major part on a fuel blend with second generation biofuel during this trip.

Convinced of the urgency to take action against climate change, a group of Dutch Multinationals - FrieslandCampina, Heineken, Philips, DSM, Shell and Unilever, all members of the Dutch Sustainable Growth Coalition (DSGC) – joined forces with AP Møller – Maersk to run a biofuel pilot in March 2019. The container vessel Mette Maersk, one of the largest containers vessels in the world, sailed on a blend with 20% biofuel from used cooking oil. This was the first time for such a high blend percentage on an ocean container vessel on this scale.

Next to sailing on the 20% blend, the Mette Maersk also sailed on a 7% blend, which in total leads for this round-trip to a reduction of the CO2 emissions with 1500 tons and of sulphur emissions with 20 tons. This is equivalent to yearly emissions of over 200 households or the equivalent of 12 million car kilometres (300 times around the world). Shell supplied the new fuel blend, for which it did extensive testing in its laboratories.

The pilot is a great success, say Jan Peter Balkenende, chairman of the DSGC and Søren Toft, Chief Operating Officer of A.P. Møller – Maersk.
Toft: “The journey has been successfully completed thanks to the great effort done by our people and the seamless collaboration with DSGC members. The lack of technical difficulties and excellent handling by our crew proves that decarbonized solutions for shipping can already now be utilized, both technically and operationally. We are under no illusion that this specific solution will be able to serve the entire industry or even our entire fleet. While it is not yet an absolutely final solution it is certainly part of the solution and that´s why we have decided to offer carbon neutral product to a selected number of customers. It is time to start moving things forward.”

Balkenende stresses the success of cooperation. ”This pilot shows that a strong cooperation between shippers, shipping companies and fuel suppliers leads to faster innovation to get understanding and acceptance of new applications. Together, Maersk and Shell will investigate other applications for biofuel for ocean shipping."

Maersk will continue to test and validate the use of biofuels for marine application, while progressing the development for other low-carbon solutions. Shell will continue to research and develop second generation biofuels based on various waste streams. The members of the DSGC who distribute their products globally via ocean shipping, will investigate how they can further stimulate these developments. In addition, they will generate attention for the urgency and the opportunities in relevant international networks and platforms, such as the Clean Cargo Working Group and the BICEPS Network.

On June 21st, at ‘Sail @ Scheveningen’, the members and other players in the international shipping community will share their thoughts on how to scale-up the use of biofuels. One of the directions is a commercial surcharge for a CO2 neutral shipping unit TEU. In addition, it will be discussed how this successful cooperation can be a blueprint for further testing of promising innovations, to speed up the decarbonisation of global ocean shipping.

The Dutch Sustainable Growth Coalition (DSGC) is a CEO coalition of 8 Dutch multinationals (AkzoNobel, DSM, FrieslandCampina, Heineken, KLM, Philips, Shell, Unilever). VNO-NCW supports DSGC and Accenture facilitates the coalition.

Members of the coalition develop and implement business models for sustainable growth that combine economic profitability with ecological and social progress. In this way, they want to contribute to achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals in 2030 (more info:

This biofuel pilot is one of the initiatives the DSGC takes to increase its impact on the Sustainable Development Goals. Other examples are participation in the Platform for Circular Economy (PACE), in the World Economic Forum and in the World Resource Institute.

On Maersk
A.P. Moller - Maersk is an integrated container logistics company working to connect and simplify its customers’ supply chains. As the global leader in shipping services, we operate in 130 countries and employ roughly 76,000 people. Our mission is to enable and facilitate global supply chains and provide opportunities for our customers to trade globally.

On Ocean Shipping and Biofuel
Ocean shipping moves 90 percent of the world’s cargo and emits 3 percent of global CO2 emissions. Without our collective action, these emissions will grow to 15% in 2050.

The biofuel used in this pilot is a so-called second generation biofuel, produced from waste streams. In this case, used cooking oil was used (UCOME-oil). This biofuel is ISCC-certified. This biofuel enables direct blending into conventional (fossil) fuels, without any technical adaptations on the vessel engines.