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ABS: IMO MSC 107 discusses developments to enhance safety of ships’ bunker fuel

ABS releases news brief on session including sampling of oil fuel and unified interpretation on flashpoint documentation, interim guidelines for ships using LPG as bunker fuel.




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Classification society ABS on Saturday (10 June) released a news brief regarding the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) holding its 107th session from 31 May to 9 June, 2023. 

The Brief provides an overview of the more significant issues progressed at the session including bunker-related matters:


  • Sampling of Oil Fuel for Revised MARPOL Annex VI and SOLAS Ch.II-2 
  • Amendments Related to Oil Fuel Parameters Other Than Flashpoint – SOLAS Regulation II-2/ 
  • Unified Interpretation on Flashpoint Documentation 
  • Development of a Safety Regulatory Framework Supporting GHG Reduction from Ships Using New Technologies and Alternative Fuels 
  • Interim Guidelines for Ships Using LPG as Fuel 
  • Amendments to the IGF Code

Sampling of Oil Fuel for Revised MARPOL Annex VI and SOLAS Chapter II-2

The Maritime Safety Committee approved draft MSC-MEPC guidelines for the sampling of oil fuel to ensure compliance with revised MARPOL Annex VI and SOLAS Chapter II-2. The joint MSC-MEPC circular aims to create a single sampling process for both conventions to obtain representative fuel samples delivered for use on board ships. These guidelines are based on Annex VI to MARPOL 73/78 and resolution MEPC.176(58). The vessels subject to regulations 5 and 6 of that Annex must record details of fuel oil delivered and used on board. To ensure compliance, the delivered representative fuel oil sample should be accompanied by a bunker delivery note in accordance with regulations. These guidelines also aim to aid in the implementation of flashpoint-related regulations. Sampling serves the purpose of ensuring compliance with Annex VI of MARPOL 73/78 and SOLAS Chapter II-2.

The personnel taking the primary sample should be familiarized with the guidelines and sampling equipment. The primary sample should be drawn at the bunker manifold of the receiving ship witnessed by representatives for the receiving ship and supplier or by surveyor mutually agreed acting on their behalf. The fuel delivered to the ship should be obtained at the receiving ship’s inlet bunker manifold and should be drawn continuously throughout the bunker delivery period. A label containing information about the location where the sample was drawn, the date of the delivery, name and grade of bunker, etc., should be secured to the retained sample container and a 600 ml sample size is agreed as sufficient to undertake tests for both flashpoint and sulfur. The retained sample should be kept in a safe storage location, outside the ship’s accommodation, for a period of not less than 12 months from the time of delivery.

Development of a Safety Regulatory Framework Supporting GHG Reduction from Ships Using New

Technologies and Alternative Fuels

While considering steps to decarbonize international shipping, including through the adoption of new technologies and use of alternative low and zero-carbon fuels, there would be a need to ensure that this transition happened in a safe and orderly way. To this scope, the Maritime Safety Committee noted the work under this new output would be continued for many years in the future and that the outcome would need to be constantly updated and established a correspondence group to begin the work for some feasible fuels and technologies. A key task for the correspondence group should be the development of a record for safety obstacles and gaps in the current IMO instruments that may impede the use of the alternative fuel or new technology. 

The Committee agreed to the work to read as "Development of a safety regulatory framework to support the reduction of GHG emissions from ships using new technologies and alternative fuels", with a target completion year as "continuous”. A correspondence group to progress the work by identifying and updating a list of fuels and technologies was established to support the new output on the new alternative fuels and new technologies for the safe reduction of ship's GHG emissions and report to MSC 108.

Mutual Understanding on Flashpoint Documentation 

The Committee endorsed the following mutual understanding concerning flashpoint documentation, subject to the entry into force of SOLAS regulation II-2/ 

The test method will provide a specified temperature when an ignition source produces a "flash" in the sample. If this flash occurs when the sample has been heated to a temperature below 70°C, this temperature should be reported on the bunker delivery note. If, however, the sample is heated to 70°C and then tested without producing a flash, there will not be an actual measured flashpoint temperature to report, but this is sufficient to establish that the flashpoint is above the 60°C minimum and thus allow for a statement to be made that the flashpoint has been measured at or above 70°C. If heating and testing of the sample has been carried out beyond 70°C and produced a flash, there will be a specific temperature that can be reported. 

Interim Guidelines for Ships Using LPG as Fuel 

The Committee approved circular MSC.1/Circ.1666 containing the Interim Guidelines for the Safety of Ships Using LPG Fuels. These Interim Guidelines will provide an international standard similar to the IGF Code, with each section of these guidelines utilizing a similar organization of specifying goals and functional requirements which form the basis for the design, construction and operation of ships using LPG as fuel. The Interim Guidelines often cross-references the IGF Code, including that the IGF Code parts B-1 (Manufacture, Workmanship and Testing), C-1 (Drills and Emergency Exercises) and D (Training) will apply to ships using LPG as fuel unless expressly stated otherwise

As with the IGF Code, risk assessments will be the basis for designing ships using LPG as fuel safely. The Interim Guidelines contain requirements for several risk assessments beyond those required by the IGF Code. Ventilation safety requirements unique to LPG fuel were introduced in recognition that LPG gas may accumulate at the bottom of rooms or even open deck due to its density. These Interim Guidelines will apply to ships using LPG as fuel to which Part G (Ships using low-flashpoint fuels) of SOLAS Chapter II-1 is applicable and requires compliance with the IGF Code.

Amendments to the IGF Code

Continuing the work from the 8th session of the Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers, numerous proposed amendments to the IGF Code were approved.

  • Amendments to paragraphs 9.6, 9.6.1, 11.6.2, 9.4.7 and 12.5, 13.3 and of the IGF Code address venting, pressure relief and ventilation requirements.
  • Amendments to paragraph 9.3.1 of the IGF Code focus on failure of the fuel supply essential auxiliaries and accepting a partial reduction in propulsion capability.
  • Amendments to part A-1, paragraphs 5.12.1,, 9.8.1, 9.8.2, 9.8.4 and to part C-1, paragraph, of the IGF Code address delivery pressure and a vessel’s bunkering line design pressure.

Moreover, the Committee approved an MSC circular on the early implementation of the amendments to paragraphs 4.2.2 and 8.4.1 to 8.4.3 of the IGF Code with focus on the bunkering manifold and use of a dry disconnect / connect coupling at the bunkering station as well as an emergency release coupler. The amendments to the IGF Code are expected to be adopted at next MSC 108 (Spring 2024).

Note: The full copy of ABS News Brief on MSC 107 can be found here.


Photo credit: International Maritime Organization
Published: 12 June, 2023

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TotalEnergies Marine Fuels renews ISCC EU certification for bio bunker fuel  

Firm’s operations teams in Singapore and Geneva successfully renewed its ISCC EU sustainability certification for the supply of biofuel bunkers, says Louise Tricoire, Vice President.





TotalEnergies Marine Fuels renews ISCC EU certification for bio bunker fuel

Louise Tricoire, Vice President of TotalEnergies Marine Fuels recently said the firm’s operations teams in Singapore and Geneva successfully renewed its International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) EU sustainability certification for the supply of biofuel bunkers.

“This means that TotalEnergies Marine Fuels can continue sourcing and supplying marine biofuels in accordance with EU renewable energy regulations ensuring the highest sustainability standards,” she said in a social media. 

“It's the third year in a row that we have successfully renewed this certification, after a deep and comprehensive audit which showed zero non-conformity.”

She added marine biofuels have grown in demand among shipping companies that want to cut greenhouse gas emissions immediately. 

“TotalEnergies Marine Fuels offers marine biofuels commercially in Singapore and we are starting in Europe. This certification enables us to accompany our customers in their decarbonisation journey with the best standard solutions available today.”

Photo credit: TotalEnergies Marine Fuels
Published: 29 September, 2023

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Alternative Fuels

Seapath, Pilot LNG launch JV to develop dedicated LNG bunkering facility in US Gulf Coast

With operations beginning in early 2026, the construction of the new facility will provide bunker fuel for LNG-powered vessels in the greater Houston/ Galveston area of Texas.





Seapath, Pilot LNG launch JV to develop dedicated LNG bunkering facility in US Gulf Coast

Seapath, a maritime subsidiary of Libra Group, and Pilot LNG, LLC (Pilot), a leading Houston-based clean energy solutions company, on Thursday (28 September) announced that they have formed a joint venture (JV) to develop, construct, and operate the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering facility in the U.S. Gulf Coast.

With operations beginning in early 2026, the construction of the new facility will provide bunker fuel for LNG-powered vessels in the greater Houston/ Galveston area of Texas.

The project, which will be developed with an initial investment of approximately USD 150 million, meets the needs of a vital global and U.S. trade corridor. According to the Greater Houston Partnership, the Greater Houston waterways generated over USD 906 billion in economic value to the U.S. in 2022. 

In addition, a 2023 U.S. Department of Transportation report recognised the Greater Houston area as the top US port by tonnage.

While LNG bunkering infrastructure has been developing overseas, U.S. infrastructure supporting its uptake has developed slower. Pilot and Seapath’s LNG bunkering facility will use their combined expertise to serve essential U.S. Gulf Coast port complexes, including servicing major cruise lines and container vessel operators.

Led by LNG industry veterans with extensive experience on the terminal and marine side, Pilot LNG is committed to delivering LNG to new and existing U.S. markets, including fuel/bunkering terminals and related infrastructure. This is the first in a series of strategic investments by Seapath and Pilot to create a network of LNG facilities in areas of unmet need in the U.S.

“Seapath is dedicated to investing across the marine infrastructure space and will provide strong financial backing to Pilot’s LNG bunker projects,” said Jonathan Cook, CEO of Pilot. 

“We look forward to working closely with Seapath to support the gradual decarbonization of the marine industry. We look forward to delivering a U.S. Gulf Coast facility in a timely manner based on the extensive development work already completed to meet the significant needs for LNG fuel, which also supports ongoing decarbonization across the industry.”

A U.S. company led by Merchant Mariners and former service members, Seapath was formed recognizing the need for critical investments in the U.S. maritime economy. The company plans to continue investing in innovative projects within maritime connectivity, industrial technologies, port real estate, and Jones Act vessels.

“The infrastructure under development will provide LNG to a growing market seeking cleaner marine fuel, particularly as customers look for economical ways to comply with tightening emissions regulations, including regulations set by the IMO in 2020,” said Seapath CEO Greg Otto.  

“We are pleased to be working with a first-class team in Pilot LNG and with some of the leading ports in the United States to bring this critical LNG bunkering infrastructure to the Gulf Coast region where there is high demand for it. Thanks to our valuable partnership with Pilot, we look forward to developing more of these much-needed facilities in ports across the United States.”

Seapath is one of 30 operational entities of Libra Group, a privately owned business group whose subsidiaries own and operate assets in nearly 60 countries with six business sectors, including maritime and renewable energy. The Group’s three maritime subsidiaries include Lomar Shipping, a global shipping company with a fleet of more than 40 vessels, and Americraft Marine, which owns and operates a Jones Act Shipyard in Palatka, Florida. Significantly, the shipyard is among the few in the U.S. to construct crew transfer vessels to service the growing offshore-wind industry and traditional inland-marine assets such as tugboats and barges.

“Libra Group is committed to advancing innovation across our sectors, from maritime to aerospace, to renewable energy and more. As a global organization, we will harness insights from across our network to bolster the uptake of more sustainable technologies to advance our sectors while identifying potential applications across our other sectors,” said Manos Kouligkas, CEO of Libra Group.

“Adoption of more sustainable fuels is critical to future-proofing our industries against a rapidly changing ecosystem. We will continue to support the transition to greener energy solutions, and we look forward to following Seapath’s work to evolve the U.S. maritime industrial sector.”

Pilot and Seapath will continue with all front-end engineering and design development for their projects in the third and fourth quarters of 2023 to file applications with the necessary federal and state agencies to permit, site, construct and operate the small-scale LNG terminal for marine fuel. Pilot and Seapath anticipate announcing details of their project investment by the second half of 2024.

Photo credit: Libra Group
Published: 29 September, 2023

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Bureau Veritas on biofuels: The transitional bunker fuel of today? 

BV published an article stating that biofuels are a promising turnkey transitional fuel but outlined practical and technical issues that shipping companies should consider.





Bureau Veritas on biofuels: The transitional bunker fuel of today?

Classification society Bureau Veritas on Thursday (28 September) published an article stating that biofuels is a promising turnkey transitional bunker fuel but outlined practical and technical issues that shipping companies should consider: 

The race is on to transition to low-carbon alternative fuels and biofuels are gaining momentum. But what are they? Biofuels are gaseous or liquid fuels produced from biomass – organic matter of biological and non-fossil origin. Easily adaptable to existing vessels, biofuels are a promising turnkey transitional fuel. Let’s dive deeper to examine this promise.


Biofuels can be broadly categorized into three generations, some of which are ready for use in shipping, and others still maturing:

  • First generation, or conventional biofuels, are generated using agricultural crops, vegetable oil or food waste. These are the most commonly used biofuels worldwide.
  • Second generation, or advanced biofuels, are produced from- non-food biomass feedstocks like residual feedstocks from forestry or crops. They could have fewer negative environmental impacts relating to land use and food production.
  • Third generation biofuels are a future generation of biofuels currently needing further development, produced from algae and microbes.

Currently, first-generation biofuels are the most widely available. However, their scalability is constrained by the origin of their feedstock, which is food-purposed crops and thus entails direct and indirect land-use changes.

Second-generation biofuels, produced from non-food feedstocks such as forest biomass and agricultural crops, are free of some constraints associated with first-generation biofuels. Their role in decarbonizing shipping will likely be crucial. However, it will require a sharp uptake in supply, which inherently requires significant investments.


Yes, they absolutely do! The way a biofuel is produced and the feedstock used are key when analyzing a biofuel’s lifecycle GHG emissions. They therefore have an impact on determining whether they can be considered as low-carbon fuel. There is currently no globally accepted standard or certification in place to ensure the end-to-end sustainable production of biofuels. First generation biofuels, for example, are carbon neutral on paper. But, this claim becomes far more complex from a well-to-wake perspective and when considering more holistic sustainability criteria.

What other kind of ramifications might biofuel production entail? For one, the land needed for production is already in high demand to expand croplands around the world. This puts first-generation biofuel production and food markets in competition with each other – not an easy battle to win. From an ethical standpoint, most would prioritize meeting global food demand over fueling ships.


When it comes to biofuel use there are two broad categories of considerations for shipping companies: the practical and the technical.


Thus far, as with many fuels, it is difficult to predict the exact future prices of biofuels. Blending biofuels with fossil fuels can reduce the overall energy content which means more fuel is needed to maintain performance. Besides, maintenance may have to be adapted in cooperation with OEMs depending on which biofuels and blends are used. The latter can lead to additional OPEX costs that shipping companies will need to shoulder.

Another crucial factor is availability. At current production rates biofuels are unlikely to be able to meet a large proportion of global maritime demand. Competition with other sectors, such as land-based transportation, may compound concerns surrounding availability. This factor is not, however, specific to biofuels – availability remains a challenge for several other potential marine fuels.

The practical disadvantage of biofuels is a question of supply – particularly for the more ecological second- and third-generations. Theoretically, these later second generation biofuels could become a flexible and sustainable refueling option. Their required feedstocks are available worldwide, and port infrastructure should not require significant adaptations to accommodate them. Practically, however, they need to be produced at much greater scale.


One of the major advantages of biofuels is the maturity of compatible engines. Vessels typically require no modification to use biofuels, making them a “drop in” replacement for conventional marine fuels. This sets biofuels apart from the majority of alternative fuels – including hydrogen, ammonia and LNG – which require specific engines or fuel storage and supply systems.

Characteristically speaking, biofuels are similar to standard fuel oil. This means minimal investment would be needed to meet evolving regulations and ensure crew safety onboard.


The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is now developing guidelines for the life cycle GHG analysis of marine fuels, which is expected to be the cornerstone when considering the emissions reduction potential of marine biofuels.

Specific biofuel regulations may still be in the early stages, but ship operators are adapting their fleets now to comply with IMO emissions regulations. Biofuels may be part of the solution to reducing emissions and meeting compliance requirements. With a sustainable production pathway, biofuels promise significant carbon emissions reductions compared to standard fossil fuels.

Biofuels also appear to be in line with NOx (nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide) emission limits. The challenge, however, comes in proving compliance. This may require onboard emission testing or engine and fuel-specific NOx emissions validation testing. However, the IMO regulations now consider blends of 30% biofuel or less in the same way as traditional oil-based bunkers.


To help the industry prepare for the use of biofuels or biofuel blends, Bureau Veritas created its BIOFUEL READY notation. It provides a set of requirements and comprehensive guidelines for the necessary documentation and testing. Suitable for new and existing ships, BIOFUEL READY is one example of how we leverage our transversal expertise to support the maritime industry’s decarbonization journey and safely progress innovative solutions. This includes assessing NOx emissions, which remain at the forefront of current regulatory compliance.

Photo credit: Bureau Veritas
Published: 29 September, 2023

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