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Argus Media: Singapore B24 bunker prices decline since 31 Jan on Ucome oversupply

B24 biofuel bunker prices in Singapore have weakened since 31 January, relative to VLSFO, due to huge supply of used-cooking oil methyl ester (Ucome), the blend’s main biofuel component.




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B24 biofuel bunker prices in Singapore have weakened since 31 January, relative to very-low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO), because of abundant used-cooking oil methyl ester (Ucome) supply.

30 March 2023

Ucome is the blend's main biofuel component. The premium of B24 to delivered VLSFO bunkers in 

Singapore was assessed at $285.84/t on 31 January — the day Argus launched price assessments — and softened to an average of $260.79/t in February, according to Argus data. The premium has weakened further to an average of $229.76/t over 1-29 March.

This is largely because of plentiful Ucome supplies from China, the main import source for Singapore's B24 blend. China has been unable to export more to Europe, as the latter has been oversupplied for a while, said market sources.

Over-blending in the European road transport sector in the second half of last year had already squashed demand for Chinese Ucome. Traders were then taken aback when Chinese customs data showed year-on-year biodiesel exports more than double in the first two months of 2023 to 455,000t, with an all-time monthly high of 263,000t in January.

Almost all of these volumes were flowing to Europe and look set to add to already ample supplies of product that are double-counted towards European renewable transport fuel mandates — of which Ucome is one. This has sent Chinese prices plummeting by $355/t since 20 January to $1,030/t fob by 23 March, the lowest level since December 2020.

But there may be signs the market has bottomed out as prices recovered to $1,125/t fob China on 29 March. Firstly, Ucome demand traditionally picks up towards summer, with its higher cold filter plugging point properties making it more ideal for warmer weather use on the road. In addition, European prices are hovering around more than two-year lows, closing the arbitrage from Asia and leading several producers on both sides to temporarily slow production or shut, rather than operate at a loss, which should go some way towards rebalancing the market over the next few weeks and months.

Prices for B24 blends based on palm oil methyl ester (PME) have also emerged in the market, with discounts to Ucome blends at around $60-80/t.

Abundant palm supplies and numerous biodiesel production facilities in Indonesia and Malaysia make grades produced from the vegetable oil much cheaper than Ucome. Demand for PME is also not nearly as high outside of its two main production centers, and does not have the double-counting incentive that Ucome has in Europe. The EU in fact plans to phase out palm completely from its renewable fuels pool by 2030.

But Ucome remains the dominant bio-component in bunker blends in Singapore, despite there currently being no regulatory restrictions on what can be mixed into a B24 blend. This is because many major stakeholders share the EU's reservations over palm-based grades on perceived sustainability issues and concerns over deforestation, despite palm oil's cost advantages.

Ucome is blended with high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) as well as low-sulphur marine gasoil (LSMGO), but those blends are a very small part of the market, say market participants.

The weaker Ucome prices have resulted in B24 prices being assessed almost at parity with LSMGO bunkers on some days, which could further stimulate demand in the city-state. The premium of B24 to LSMGO so far in March has averaged $54.78/t.

In a speech given earlier this year, Singapore's minister of transport S Iswaran said that Singapore in 2022 sold 140,000t of biofuel bunkers, compared to just 16,000t of LNG bunkers.

Biofuels are a popular way for shipping companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet the International Maritime Organization's decarbonisation goals, as they are a "plug and play solution" that can be quickly deployed.

By Sammy Six and Amandeep Parmar


Photo credit and source: Argus Media
Published: 31 March, 2023

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Mitsubishi Shipbuilding receives orders for Japan’s first methanol-fuelled RoRo cargo ship duo

Two ships will be built at the Enoura Plant of MHI’s Shimonoseki Shipyard & Machinery Works in Yamaguchi Prefecture, with scheduled completion and delivery by the end of fiscal 2027.





Mitsubishi Shipbuilding receives orders for Japan's first methanol-fuelled RoRo cargo ship duo

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., a part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group, on Wednesday (19 June) said it has received orders from Toyofuji Shipping and Fukuju Shipping for Japan's first methanol-fueled roll-on/roll-off (RORO) cargo ships. 

The two ships will be built at the Enoura Plant of MHI's Shimonoseki Shipyard & Machinery Works in Yamaguchi Prefecture, with scheduled completion and delivery by the end of fiscal 2027.

The ships will be approximately 169.9 meters in overall length and 30.2 meters in breadth, with 15,750 gross tonnage, and loading capacity for around 2,300 passenger vehicles.

A windscreen at the bow and a vertical stem are used to reduce propulsion resistance, while fuel efficiency is improved by employing MHI's proprietary energy-saving system technology combing high-efficiency propellers and high-performance rudders with reduced resistance. 

The main engine is a high-performance dual-fuel engine that can use both methanol and A heavy fuel oil, reducing CO2 emissions by more than 10% compared to ships with the same hull and powered by fuel oil, contributing to a reduced environmental impact. 

In the future, the use of green methanol(2) may lead to further reduction in CO2 emissions, including throughout the lifecycle of the fuel. Methanol-fueled RORO ships have already entered into service as ocean-going vessels around the world, but this is the first construction of coastal vessels for service in Japan.

In addition, the significant increase in vehicle loading capacity and transport capacity per voyage compared to conventional vessels will provide greater leeway in the ship allocation schedule, securing more holiday and rest time for the crew, thereby contributing to working style reforms.

Mitsubishi Shipbuilding, to address the growing needs from the modal shift in marine transport against the backdrop of CO2 reductions in land transportation, labor shortages, and working style reforms, will continue to work with its business partners to provide solutions for a range of societal issues by building ferries and RORO vessels with excellent fuel efficiency and environmental performance that contribute to stable navigation for customers.


Photo credit: Mitsubishi Shipbuilding
Published: 20 June, 2024

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Maersk and Nike to christen methanol-fuelled boxship at Port of Los Angeles in August

Powered by methanol for its maiden voyage and capable of carrying more than 16,000 containers, the vessel will get its new name at a private ceremony at Port of Los Angeles Outer Harbor.






A.P. Moller – Maersk (Maersk) on Wednesday (19 June) said it will be christening one of the world’s first methanol-enabled vessels when it arrives in Los Angeles this August.

The firm invited the public to go aboard the container ship in Los Angeles.

Powered by methanol for its maiden voyage and capable of carrying more than 16,000 containers (TEU), the vessel will get its new name at a private ceremony at the Port of Los Angeles Outer Harbor on Tuesday, August 27. 

Maersk’s CEO Vincent Clerc will be on hand, alongside special guest speakers from Nike and leading state and local officials. Nike is a partner in the name-giving event.

“Nike is committed to protecting the future of sport and we leverage science-based targets to guide us through our Move to Zero journey,” said Venkatesh Alagirisamy, Nike Chief Supply Chain Officer.

“Operating one of the largest supply chains in the world, we have a responsibility to advance the innovation and use of more sustainable methods that get us closer to zero carbon and zero waste. By working with suppliers like Maersk, who share our commitment to sustainability, we are scaling our use of biofuels in ocean transportation, our main first-mile delivery channel.”

“This event is not only an opportunity to celebrate a remarkable engineering achievement, but the chance to highlight that we can navigate towards more sustainable supply chains if we work together,” said Charles van der Steene, Regional President for Maersk North America.

On Wednesday, August 28, Maersk invites the public to tour the 350-meter-long vessel, which will be sailing from Asia. Visitors will be able to see the Sailors’ living quarters and even stand on the bridge from where the captain controls the vessel. Public tours will require visitors register for a free ticket via an online registration site that will be activated and announced in August.

This is the fifth container vessel in Maersk’s fleet that can sail on green methanol bunker fuel.


Photo credit: A.P. Moller – Maersk
Published: 20 June, 2024

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Methanol Institute: Innovative developments and strategic collaborations (Week 24, 10-16 June 2024)

This week highlights notable advancements in methanol fuel technology, strategic partnerships, and industry analyses, underscoring the maritime sector’s ongoing commitment to sustainable fuel solutions.





Methanol Institute logo

The Methanol Institute, provides an exclusive weekly commentary on developments related to the adoption of methanol as a bunker fuel, including significant related events recorded during the week, for the readers of bunkering publication Manifold Times:

The past week saw further additions to the potential capacity for production of methanol with announcement of a new facility using waste biomass to create biomethanol for the maritime market. Elsewhere, plans for additional port storage was announced at key ports in China. Finally, analysis by Ship & bunker shows that almost half of the bunker capacity represented by the newbuilding orderbook will be powered by alternative fuels.

Methanol marine fuel related developments for Week 24 of 2024:

Norway to Develop Bio-e-Methanol Production Facility

Date: June 10, 2024

Key Points: Glocal Green and Norwegian Hydrogen are partnering to build a bio-e-methanol plant in Øyer, Gudbrandsdalen, Norway. The facility will produce 10,000 metric tonnes of bio-e-methanol annually, using hydrogen and CO2 from bio-waste and wood waste. The project aims to support the maritime sector's transition to green fuels, leveraging local renewable resources to create sustainable methanol, thus contributing to Norway's environmental goals and the broader global push for cleaner energy solutions.

Green Marine Fuels and Vopak Collaborate on Green Methanol Storage Facilities

Date: June 12, 2024

Key Points: Green Marine Fuels Trading and Vopak have announced a strategic partnership to develop green methanol storage facilities at key ports, including Shanghai Caojing and Tianjin Lingang in China. This collaboration aims to expand the infrastructure needed to support the growing demand for green methanol as a sustainable marine fuel. The facilities will enhance the supply chain for green methanol, aligning with global efforts to decarbonize the shipping industry and promote the use of alternative fuels.

Global Orderbook Analysis: Conventional vs. Alternative Bunker Fuel Demand

Date: June 13, 2024

Key Points: An analysis of the global newbuilding orderbook, conducted by Ship and Bunker, reveals that of a total 33.8 million tonnes (mt) of bunker demand, alternative fuelled ships represent 46% or 15.6mt of bunker demand.

Methanol accounts for 3.2 mt (10%) compared to 10.5mt (31%) for LNG, a figure skewed by the vast orderbook for LNG carriers which partly use their cargo as fuel.

The data from DNV Alternative Fuels Insight indicates a significant shift towards alternative fuels, driven by containerships and LNG carriers, reflecting the maritime industry's continuing focus on reducing carbon emissions and adopting greener fuel options.


Photo credit: Methanol Institute
Published: 20 June, 2024

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