Rio Tinto and bp sign one-year trial of marine biofuels

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BP will supply Rio Tinto with marine biofuel for about a year as part of the trial. In one of the longest-duration marine biofuel trials to date, the fuel will be tested on Rio Tinto’s RTM Tasman vessel on a mix of Transatlantic and Atlantic-Pacific routes. Rio Tinto will use the results of the trial to research ways to reduce carbon emissions from its marine fleet and to inform its future biofuel strategy.

The RTM Tasman completed a successful journey after refueling with biofuel for the first time in Rotterdam in March 2022 and picking up its first load of the trial at the Iron Ore Company of Canada’s Sept-Îles port in Quebec in April. During the trial, all biofuel refueling will take place in Rotterdam.

“Sustainable biofuels have the potential to be an important transition fuel on the way to net-zero marine emissions and we are pleased to be working with bp to carry out this long-term trial. A longer-duration trial will provide important information on the potential role and wide scale use of biofuels, and aligns with our goals to reduce marine emissions across our value chain and support efforts to decarbonise the maritime industry. Our ambition is to reach net-zero emissions from shipping of our products to customers by 2050 and to introduce net-zero carbon vessels into our portfolio by 2030. We know that we won’t meet these ambitions alone and along the way will need to work with capable and experienced companies such as bp.”

Rio Tinto Head of Commercial Operations, Laure Baratgin said.

The trial is using a B30 biofuel blend made by BP that contains 30% fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) and very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO). When compared to standard marine fuel oil, this B30 biofuel blend can reduce lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions by up to 26%.

FAME is a biodiesel-like renewable alternative fuel made primarily from recycled cooking oils and renewable oil sources. It has similar physical properties to conventional diesel and is a ‘drop-in fuel,’ requiring no engine or vessel modifications. The sustainability of the feedstocks used to make the FAME has been certified according to internationally recognized standards.

“Sustainable biofuels are important to help decarbonise the shipping industry in the near- and mid-term as we transition towards longer term net zero solutions. We’re proud to be working with Rio Tinto to support their work to decarbonise. These trials are part of our ongoing efforts to help accelerate the shipping industry’s energy transition,”

Sven Boss-Walker, senior vice president refining & products trading, bp said.

The trial will examine a variety of engine and fuel performance factors, including engine efficiency and fuel consumption, corrosion and degradation, microbial growth, temperature impact, fuel switching impacts, and fuel stability, in collaboration with BP and ship managers Anglo-Eastern.

Rio Tinto is also speeding up the delivery of its shipping-related climate commitments. It has reduced the intensity of its owned and time-chartered fleet by 30% since 2008 and is on track to meet the International Maritime Organization’s 2030 targets of a 40% reduction in emissions five years ahead of schedule, by 2025.

BP is collaborating with companies in key industrial sectors with significant carbon emissions, such as shipping, to help them decarbonize.

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