Rio Tinto and bp Enter into a One Year Sustainable Biofuel Trial

Published on: 23 May 2022 12:32 PM

Rio Tinto, an Anglo-Australian mining company, and BP, the British energy company, have agreed to work together on a one-year biofuel trial to reduce carbon emissions in Rio Tinto's marine fleet. BP will provide Rio Tinto with marine biofuel for about a year as part of the trial.

The fuel will be tested on Rio Tinto's bulk carrier RTM Tasman on a mix of Transatlantic and Atlantic-Pacific routes, which is considered one of the world's longest-running marine biofuel trials.

The trial's findings will aid Rio Tinto in studying ways to cut carbon emissions from its maritime fleet and inform its future biofuel strategy.

Laure Baratgin, Rio Tinto's Head of Commercial Operations, said:

"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 the 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... … experienced companies such as BP."

The RTM Tasman completed a successful journey after refuelling 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 refuelling will take place in Rotterdam. The trial employs BP's B30 biofuel mix, which is made up of 30% fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) and low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO). Compared to regular marine fuel oil, this B30 biofuel blend can cut lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions by up to 26%.

FAME is a biodiesel-like renewable alternative fuel made mostly from recycled cooking oils and renewable oil sources. It has identical physical attributes to ordinary diesel and is a 'drop-in fuel,' requiring no engine or vessel changes. The sustainability of the feedstocks used to make the FAME has been validated according to internationally recognised standards.

The study will examine a variety of engine and fuel performance aspects, including engine efficiency and fuel consumption, corrosion and degradation, microbiological development, temperature impact, fuel switching impacts, and fuel stability, in collaboration with BP and the ship manager, 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 course to fulfil the International Maritime Organisation's 2030 targets of a 40% reduction in emissions five years ahead of schedule, by 2025.

BP is collaborating with enterprises in critical industrial sectors with high carbon emissions, such as shipping, to help them decarbonise. It joined the Maersk Mc-Kinney Møller Centre for Zero Carbon Shipping last year to collaborate on developing innovative alternative fuels and low-carbon shipping solutions.