Norfolk – As it had done so many times before, the Maersk Wyoming sat at idle on a clear Friday evening at APM Terminals, its auxiliary engine hummed quietly as cargo operations were underway, but one thing was very different about this call.
As the vessel idled, its engine was using ultra low-sulfur marine diesel, a fuel that releases far fewer emissions when burned. Moreover, the vessel’s use of low-sulfur fuel while it was moored at APM Terminals represented a new milestone for the Virginia Port Authority’s Green Operator – GO -- program.
“The GO program was designed to get cleaner trucks into the region’s fleet with assistance from the VPA,” said Heather Wood, the VPA’s director of environmental affairs. “We’ve expanded the program to include ocean carriers and Maersk was the first carrier to sign on to our GO fuel switch program. This is a perfect example of a port and ocean carrier having a common environmental goal, which is this case is clean air.”
Through the fuel-switching program, Maersk Line will take advantage of a $300,000 incentive from VPA to burn the low-sulfur fuel in its vessels when they are pier side at The Port of Virginia. Once moored, Maersk Line vessels will draw fuel for their auxiliary engines from an on-board tank filled with the cleaner burning fuel, which contains less that 0.1 percent sulfur.
Maersk Line vessels call The Port of Virginia on a weekly basis and last year the ocean carrier accounted for 300 vessels calls in Virginia.
“We estimate that the fuel switch will reduce emissions of sulfur oxides by 20 metric tons in the first six months,” said Lee Kindberg, director of environment and sustainability at Maersk Line.
Norfolk-based Maersk Line, Limited (MLL) will have 18 ships participating in the program. The fuel switch program will run for 13 months and involve 41 Maersk Line ships making more than 210 port calls.
The GO program is the VPA’s ongoing effort to clean up drayage trucks serving The Port of Virginia and it now includes incentives for fuel switching and alternative auxiliary power options for ocean carriers. The GO program provides incentives to retrofit older vehicles with more emission-efficient engines and recognizes partners for setting and achieving goals for reducing air pollution and greenhouse gases associated with the transport of goods. GO partners include both carriers and shippers, each doing their part to clean up the air.
Through the $300,000 incentive, the VPA will subsidize Maersk Line’s cost to purchase the ultra low-sulfur marine diesel for one year. The money for the incentive comes from three sources: the VPA, $75,000; the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, $75,000; and $150,000 from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) grant program. Over the course of the next five years the VPA will receive $4 million in CMAQ funding for the program.