Rio Tinto and bp to start year-long trial of marine biofuels

The results will enable Rio Tinto to explore ways to reduce its carbon emissions from its marine fleet and inform its future biofuels strategy

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Rio Tinto and bp have agreed to partner for a one-year trial of biofuels to help reduce carbon from the former company’s marine fleet.

Under the trial, bp will provide Rio Tinto with marine biofuel for around 12 months, with the fuel used on the company’s RTM Tasman vessel on a mix of Transatlantic and Atlantic-Pacific routes.

It is believed to be one of the longest duration marine biofuel trials to date.

The results will enable Rio Tinto to explore ways to reduce its carbon emissions from its marine fleet and inform its future biofuels strategy.

The trial, which will use a bp-manufactured B30 biofuel blend composed of 30% fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) blended with very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO), with the B30 biofuel blend expected to reduce lifecycle carbon emissions by up to 26% compared to standard marine fuel oil.

FAME is a renewable alternative fuel largely produced from recycled cooking oils and renewable oil sources.

The extended trial agreement follows a successful journey on the RTM Tasman after it refuelled with biofuel in Rotterdam in March 2022 for the first time.

Rio Tinto has delivered a 30% intensity reduction on its owned and time-chartered fleet from a 2008 baseline and is said to be on track to meet the International Maritime Organisation’s 2030 targets of a 40% reduction in emissions five years early, by 2025.

Laure Baratgin, Rio Tinto 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 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.”