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Bio bunker fuels: A piece of the decarbonization puzzle

Incorporating biofuel bunkers to the shipping mix complements existing energy efficiency measures in shipping’s race to net-zero, says Cristina Saenz de Santa Maria, Regional Manager South East Asia, Pacific & India, Maritime at DNV.




bio bunker fuels a piece of the decarbonization puzzle

Opinion piece by Cristina Saenz de Santa Maria, Regional Manager South East Asia, Pacific & India, Maritime at DNV

How can the maritime industry globally move faster on its decarbonization journey?

Which ‘low hanging fruit’ can we draw on as we struggle to get started on the energy transition to cleaner and low carbon fuels?

Let’s consider, for a start, the important role which can be played by biofuels.

Biofuels – in the form of methane, methanol, or fuel oils – are seen as a convenient way for shipping companies to reduce their carbon emissions because of their ability to be used as a “drop-in” fuel.

As highlighted in DNV’s new whitepaper – “Biofuels in shipping” – biofuels can be mixed with similar versions of fossil fuels and used to power existing engines.

This make biofuels an extremely attractive decarbonization solution for shipowners as they negate the need for large-scale capital investments which are necessary for other decarbonization options, such as the retrofitting of engines to dual-fuel capability.

Our whitepaper acknowledges that the usage of biofuels in shipping has so far been extremely low. Before 2022, this was limited to a number of demonstrations, pilots and trials carried out onboard ships.

However, in 2022, this seemingly accelerated with reports of around 930,000 tonnes of blended biofuel being bunkered in Singapore and Rotterdam.

“Whilst this might seem like a large number, it still accounts for just 0.1% of total maritime fuel consumption of 280 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) per year,” states my colleague Eirik Ovrum, Principal Consultant in DNV Environment Advisory and co-author of the biofuels whitepaper.

Singapore tests biofuels for shipping

In Singapore, we know there’s been work done already to put biofuels to the test for shipping.

At one of our scheduled webinars in February this year, Anglo American’s Global Head of Shipping Peter Lye agreed and told webinar participants that his company was already working with its partners to explore the use of biofuels as a means to reduce carbon intensity in its ocean freight operations.

It had successfully trialled (in mid-2021) a biodiesel blend produced in Singapore by Alpha Biofuels from used cooking oil (UCO), to power one of its charter vessels during a voyage from Singapore to South Africa.

The Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) reported, also in February this year, that it had completed trialling two supply chains of biofuel blends sourced from different origins.

The supply chain trials, which involved 19 industry partners, entailed tracing biofuels from their production sites outside Singapore, to Singapore where the fuels were blended and bunkered. Lab testing of the fuels continued until they were consumed onboard.

Despite its nascent stage, Sanjay Kuttan, Chief Technology Officer at the GCMD said “there is a lot we can do right now that can make a big difference” during DNV’s ‘Live from Singapore’ webinar.

Ship operators can take on board low-carbon biofuels for bunkering without having to make any changes to fuel tanks or engines. He emphasised that we can also cut emissions immediately by introducing smart energy efficiency measures.

Practical considerations for biofuels onboard

We in DNV make a point of drawing attention in our whitepaper to the “practical considerations for use of biofuels onboard”.

Although biofuels are regarded as relatively easy and straightforward to use, they still have the potential to damage equipment onboard a vessel if not dealt with correctly.

Due to the lack of long-lasting trials, there is a shortage of experience with biodiesels and bioliquids, and their compatibility with existing onboard machinery.

Therefore, it is important to evaluate biofuels on a case-by-case basis to make sure that the fuel specification and quality is compatible with the intended applications onboard the vessel.

Biofuels are made by converting organic matter, also known as biomass, into a fuel product. Biomass absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere during growth, which gives biofuels the potential to be carbon-neutral, even though CO2 is emitted when combusting most biofuels.

The sustainability of biofuels is dependent on the feedstock. Biomass sourced from agricultural main products is usually referred to as conventional and not sustainable. Biomass from non-food or non-feed sources is termed advanced and has the potential to be regarded as sustainable, depending on the criteria.

M1 Ind 472 ethanol storage tanks

Decarbonizing shipping through biofuels

DNV’s whitepaper assesses the current and future global biofuel production capacity by drawing on its own database of biofuel plants currently in operation, as well as visible planned biofuel production projects. The database identifies around 5,000 biofuel production facilities worldwide and predicts how biofuel production is expected to develop through to 2050.

According to the paper, global production of advanced biofuels stands at 11 Mtoe per annum in 2023. A significant number of projects involving production from advanced biomass sources are expected to come on-stream between now and 2026, bringing total sustainable biofuel production levels up to 23 Mtoe per annum.

Whilst this represents strong growth, it still falls short of the volume of biofuels that shipping would need in order to make a big impact on decarbonization efforts.

We must ask how much of the biofuel supply can shipping obtain?

If shipping was to decarbonize fully by 2050 primarily using biofuels, in combination with energy efficiency measures, 250 Mtoe per annum of biofuels would be required.

Our whitepaper estimates that the global sustainable and economical supply of biofuels could reach 500–1,300 Mtoe per year by 2050, which means that shipping would need between 20% and 50% of this supply if it was to decarbonize primarily using biofuels.

Total global energy demand today is around 10,500 Mtoe per year and shipping accounts for around 3% of this. It is, therefore, unlikely that shipping will be able to obtain such a high share of biofuels.

Shipping is considered a hard-to-abate sector and there are many in the industry who feel like it should be prioritized for biofuel supply over other sectors like road transport, due to the difficulties in, for example, electrifying the maritime fleet.

Fierce competition in the biofuels marketplace

Nonetheless, competition for supply will be fierce, particularly from sectors like aviation and road transport, which have already established a foothold in the biofuels market.

A case in point is Singapore’s concurrent focus on sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) as it is a major airline hub, as much as it is one of the world’s biggest ports for shipping.

In May this year, the Finnish company Neste announced that its Singapore refinery expansion would double its total production capacity to 2.6 million tons annually of which up to one million tons can be sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

The DNV whitepaper concludes that it is likely that biofuels will play an important role in shipping over the coming decades. However, limits to production capacity and competition from a range of other sectors mean that shipping cannot rely on biofuels as the only solution to reaching its decarbonization targets.

The maritime industry will, therefore, have to continue exploring other options to reach net zero.

Like it or not, biofuels are not a magic bullet and shipping needs to be multi-faceted in the ways in which it addresses decarbonization.

This means combining biofuels with more energy efficiency measures as well as developing the infrastructure for other carbon-neutral fuels.

Photo credit: DNV
Published: 5 July, 2023

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SMW 2024: Maritime industry on track to adopt mid-term decarbonisation measures, says IMO chief

Safety, inclusion and transparency will be key areas for Mr Arsenio Dominguez’s tenure as Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization.





SMW 2024: Maritime industry on track to adopt mid-term decarbonisation measures, says IMO chief

The article ‘Maritime industry on track to adopt mid-term decarbonisation measures: IMO chief’ was first published on Issue 1 of the Singapore Maritime Week 2024 Show Dallies; it has been reproduced in its entirety on Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times with permission from The Nutgraf and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore:

Toh Wen Li
[email protected]

The maritime industry is “on track” to roll out decarbonisation measures by 2025 as set out by the International Maritime Organization, said its new chief Arsenio Dominguez.

“We are on track to adopt mid-term measures by late 2025 to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, to reach net zero targets,” said Mr Dominguez, who took over as IMO Secretary-General in January.

In 2023, the IMO released a revised GHG strategy to reach net-zero emissions from shipping by or around 2050 – far more ambitious than its 2018 initial GHG strategy, which aimed only to cut emissions by at least 50 per cent compared to 2008.

“These will help us progress towards achieving netzero GHG emissions by or around 2050, with indicative checkpoints to reach by 2030 (cut GHG emissions by at least 20 per cent, striving for 30 per cent), and 2040 (cut GHG emissions by at least 70 per cent, striving for 80 per cent).”

Mr Dominguez, who will be speaking on the opening day of the 18th edition of SMW, also emphasised the need to keep seafarers safe against the backdrop of heightened geopolitical tensions. He said the attacks on ships in the Red Sea have far-reaching economic implications.

“Prolonged disruptions in container shipping could lead to delayed deliveries, high costs, and inflation. Energy security and food security could potentially be affected due to increased prices,” he said.

“These attacks pose serious threats to global maritime security, as well as the security and maritime trade for the coastal states in the region,” he said, calling out the Red Sea attacks as “categorically unacceptable”. But he remains confident that the industry will continue to stay resilient. “I trust that shipping organisations and Member States alike will come together in the relevant IMO fora to seek collaboration and look for solutions together.”

Mr Dominguez also pledged to create a more inclusive IMO, one that is more gender-balanced in an industry that has long been dominated by men.

“I have appointed a gender balanced senior management team and initiated a policy of refraining from participating in panels or events unless gender representation is respected. I encourage the maritime community to follow this example,” he said.

He added that the IMO will also strive to fulfil its mandate as the world’s regulator for international shipping; support IMO’s 176 Member States, particularly Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries; raise public awareness of IMO’s impact; and adopt a “people-centred approach”.

“My vision is for IMO to flourish as a transparent, inclusive, and diverse institution,” he said. 

Singapore can ‘shine a light on the way forward’

Key maritime hubs like Singapore can play a key role as the industry pushes ahead in its quest to decarbonise, said International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Secretary-General, Mr Arsenio Dominguez.

“Singapore is (in) a great position to participate in trials and pilots to show what works, including routebased actions – and share results of any trials back to IMO,” he said.

The green transition poses a slew of fresh considerations for the maritime sector. A major bunkering hub such as Singapore will need to look at making changes to infrastructure to deliver new fuels.

Other considerations for the industry include safety, pricing, lifecycle emissions, supply chain constraints, barriers to adoption and more, added Mr Dominguez. Seafarers, too, will need to be trained in how to operate new technology safely.

“We need ‘early movers’ in the industry as well as forward-looking policy makers to take the necessary risks and secure the right investments that will stimulate long-term solutions for the sector,” he said.

Singapore Maritime Week is a chance for key stakeholders to “have the conversations and discussions that can formulate ideas and bring new solutions”, Mr Dominguez said.

Now, more than ever, collaboration will be crucial. “The experience of critical maritime hubs like Singapore can help shine a light on the way forward for many issues. Here the IMO can play a role in providing opportunities for Singapore and other maritime hubs to share their expertise with all Member States. Shipping is global – no single country can go it alone.” 

Singapore Maritime Week 2024 was organised by Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore from 15 to 19 April. 


Photo credit: International Maritime Organization
Article credit: The Nutgraf/ Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 23 April, 2024

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IBIA and BIMCO to collaborate on bunker fuel and maritime challenges

Both will collaborate in areas including research initiatives, studies, and projects relevant to bunker or marine energy industry and maritime sector as well as training and education.





IBIA and BIMCO to collaborate on bunker fuel and maritime challenges

The International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) and BIMCO on Monday (22 April) said they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate on some of the monumental challenges and opportunities within the areas of bunker, marine energy and maritime sectors and help facilitate shipping’s decarbonisation efforts.

The parties have agreed to leverage their respective expertise and resources to develop innovative solutions and initiatives to facilitate the transition towards cleaner fuels and efficient and sustainable shipping practices. The partnership MOU will focus on addressing the following key areas:

Research and Development: Collaborate on research initiatives, studies, and projects relevant to the bunker/marine energy industry and maritime sector.

Information Sharing: Share relevant information, publications, and data that may be beneficial to the members of both organisations.

Training and Education: Explore opportunities for joint training programs, seminars, and educational initiatives to enhance the knowledge and skills of professionals in the maritime and bunker/marine energy industry.

Influence: Work together on efforts to address common issues and challenges faced by the industry.

Alexander Prokopakis, Executive Director of IBIA, said: “This partnership between IBIA and BIMCO marks an important step towards addressing the pressing challenge of decarbonisation in the shipping industry. The collaboration underscores the industry’s collective commitment to navigating towards a greener future for maritime operations.”

David Loosley, BIMCO Secretary General & CEO, said: “As we work towards the checkpoints and targets of the updated GHG strategy of the IMO, working across all sectors that influence and support decarbonisation of shipping will be key. Our ships will be relying on many different fuel solutions in the process and working toward the safety and availability of those is crucial.” 

IBIA and BIMCO are committed to driving progress towards a more sustainable and environmentally responsible future for the global shipping industry.


Photo credit: IBIA and BIMCO
Published: 23 April 2024

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Peninsula and NYK collaborate on B30 biofuel bunkering op in Zeebrugge

Peninsula barge “New York” delivered 1,200 mt of B30 bio bunker fuel to “Garnet Leader”, a NYK vehicle carrier on 24 March in Zeebrugge, Belgium.





Peninsula and NYK collaborate on B30 biofuel bunkering op in Zeebrugge

Marine fuel supplier Peninsula on Monday (22 April) announced the successful conclusion of the first B30 biofuel supply deal in Zeebrugge, Belgium, in collaboration with the Japanese shipping company, Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK). 

The deal, which marks a significant milestone in sustainable fuel distribution, saw the delivery of 1,200 metric tonnes (mt) of B30. 

The delivery, executed on 24 March involved the vessel Garnet Leader, a NYK vehicle carrier. 

Peninsula's barge New York, played the role of ensuring the transportation and delivery of the biofuel to its destination in Zeebrugge.

Kaori Takahashi, General Manager of NYK’s Fuel Group, said: “NYK is proud to collaborate with Peninsula in this pioneering supply of B30 biofuel, which underscores our dedication to environmental sustainability and innovation in the maritime sector.”

“By leveraging sustainable biofuels like B30, we are taking meaningful strides towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

“NYK remains dedicated to driving positive change within the industry while meeting the evolving demands of our customers and stakeholders.”

B30 biofuel, a blend comprising 30% ISCC EU certified sustainable UCOME, which is biofuel derived from Used Cooking Oil, offers a promising avenue reducing GHG emissions by 84%, thus mitigating the environmental impact of maritime operations. 

By using biofuel technology, Peninsula continues to pave the way for a greener future while simultaneously meeting the evolving needs of the shipping industry.

Peninsula's Head of Biofuels Desk, Nikolas Nikolaidis, said: "As the maritime industry, along with prominent players like NYK, intensifies their adoption of Sustainable Marine Fuels (SMF), the accessibility of such solutions grows in significance.”

“Peninsula is committed to collaborating closely with our established clients and partners to deliver SMF solutions where demand is highest.”

“Peninsula is broadening its biofuel supply network, positioning itself as the leading physical marine fuel supplier to offer comprehensive biofuel solutions across multiple regions and ports for our customers."


Photo credit: Peninsula and NYK
Published: 23 April 2024

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