Yes! Speculations by several industry sources definitely hint that Maersk Line is in close talks with the Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) in South Korea, for an order of a dozen 15,000 TEU ships powered by methanol.
The speculations come at a time when there is a close contest between the container lines to ramp up their fleet capacities, to maximize their profits when currently the freight rates are sky high and constantly rising.
Presently, the global freight orders exceed the total fleet capacity by 18% making it a perfect opportunity for companies like Maersk Line to dwell upon. Maersk recorded a whopping profit of 2.7bn in the first quarter of this year in similar conditions, making the probability of the speculations being true very high.
Each of these methanol-powered ships cost about $170 million, creating a buzz around the tight negotiations between Maersk and HHI. Neither of the sides has released any official statements about the speculations, neither denying them nor accepting them.
The conjecture also aligns with Maersk's latest policy of not commissioning or building vessels that are incapable of significantly reducing carbon and sulfur emissions from its operations. The emphasis in the order on methanol-powered ships makes the conjecture more believable as methanol cuts down on sulfur oxide emissions by 99%, greenhouse gases by 25% and is easier to store and transport than LNG.
Lastly, Maersk recently on July 1st announced that it was to commission a 2100 TEU methanol-powered vessel from the Hyundai Mipo Dockyard, an HHI affiliate which is set to be delivered in 2023.
All the above facts and previous circumstances are strongly supportive of the conjecture, but at the end of the day, there is a chance that negotiations might never make it through, for the highest profiting making container line, therefore making the speculation worthwhile the buzz.