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DNV Decarbonisation Insights: Singapore’s pathway to Net Zero and the role of Ammonia

“By working together as an industry, embracing fuel flexibility and consulting with expert partners,such as class, shipping can, and indeed must, reach its destination,” says the CEO of DNV Maritime.




Vessels on anchorage at Singapore Nikos Spaeth MT
Cristina Saenz de Santa Maria DNV MT

“With COP26, along with many commitments and collaboration projects recently announced, it’s clear we are heading for carbon zero, but the route there is far from it. The grand challenge of our time remains: how to fuel shipping’s transition to a carbon neutral future?”.1

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

It is not surprising that Singapore is getting ready to play a major role in the decarbonisation of the global maritime industry.

Ninety percent of all goods around the globe are transported by sea, with Singapore being one of the most important hubs worldwide. And while doing so shipping is the most efficient means of transportation per cargo tonne, the sector still causes almost three percent of global CO2 emissions.2

To contribute to the pathway to Net Zero, Singapore is now exploring a portfolio of alternative fuels and strategies that would enable shipping to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Besides being the world’s largest bunkering hub, with almost 50 million metric tonnes (mt) of bunker fuels delivered annually, Singapore currently imports all the gas it needs to power its local economy. So, it is in the city state’s own interest to drive the transition and keep its leading edge in a decarbonised world.

Earlier this year, Singapore established the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) and DNV stepped up to be a partner in this important collaboration initiative.3

Dr Sanjay Kuttan, GCMD Chief Technology Officer, notes that new fuels on the horizon include sustainable biofuels, biodiesel, bio-LNG, methanol, hydrogen, and ammonia, amongst others.

“However, these new fuels must be greener than the incumbent fuels, i.e. they must have a lower carbon life cycle, otherwise it would be a waste of resources to venture into such investments, as it will not reduce overall carbon burden on the environment,” Dr Kuttan asserts.4

Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation logo GCMD MT

Showing that it is clearly open to explore alternatives to existing fuels, GCMD announced in October 2021 that it was inviting proposals to commission a technical evaluation to define the safety and operational envelopes for ammonia bunkering in Singapore.

The expected outcomes of the evaluation will support the establishment of regulatory sandboxes for pilots and demonstration projects, with a view of enabling ammonia bunkering in the future.

So, how viable is ammonia and is it safe enough for widespread use as a marine fuel in Singapore, or anywhere, for that matter?

From DNV’s own studies and from pilot programmes conducted in Europe in particular, ammonia comes clean as an ideal marine fuel for long-haul shipping, as part of a wider mix of fuel options.

As a global organisation headquartered in Norway – recognised as the world’s leading classification society and respected advisor to the maritime industry – DNV is well positioned to weigh up all the clean and green fuel options which could take their place, alongside LNG, and even replace it one day, as an alternative shipping fuel, as outlined in detail in DNV’s Maritime Forecast to 2050.5

Not only does ammonia burn CO₂-free, like hydrogen, but it has a higher energy density and is easier to store and transport, as it doesn’t require cryogenic – or ultra-cool – storage.

As ammonia has advantages over the direct use of hydrogen for long-distance shipping, the International Energy Agency (IEA) states in its Net Zero Emissions Scenario that ammonia could meet around 45 percent of global shipping fuel demand. IEA also sees green ammonia as the lowest cost option as an alternative fuel for the future (by 2050).6

An evaluation of a Newcastlemax bulk carrier newbuild by DNV experts has shown that ammonia would likely be the cheapest carbon-neutral fuel for this ship type under certain scenarios – adding that Fuel Ready (ammonia) and dual-fuel designs are becoming valid options for shipowners already now.7

Design options for a newcastlemaxx bulk carrier

DNV has also been involved in ammonia trials with Color Line in Norway, as part of the Green Shipping Programme (GSP), which found that ammonia can be safely deployed even in passenger vessels, since no “incomprehensible technical or safety barriers” could be identified.8

After exploring all potential inhibiting factors for a widespread adoption of ammonia as a maritime fuel for the future, DNV has come up with some convincing answers:

  • What about the cost of green ammonia?
    DNV would expect a higher cost initially for ammonia compared to LNG or hydrogen. But as with any green or clean energy being introduced, there are higher costs until production and use is scaled up sufficiently. If we look at the experience with solar and wind energy to produce electricity on land or on water, we see that initially it was very expensive, but now solar and wind are on price parity with any other sources of energy, even coal.
  • What about safety factors?
    While ammonia’s toxicity is well known, trials in Europe have shown it can be safely stored and used on board vessels of all types, whether carrying passengers or freight. DNV has not only produced an “Ammonia as a Marine Fuel Safety Handbook” for the GSP but also developed Gas Fuelled ammonia class rules, and a Fuel Ready notation which allows later fuel retrofits. DNV further invests heavily in ammonia R&D and runs related HAZID workshops with customers and industry stakeholders.9
  • Where is it sourced?
    While ammonia is currently going through marine fuel trials in Europe and Japan, DNV sees that one of the best Asia Pacific sources for green ammonia (and/or green hydrogen) could be Australia, as the country is acknowledged as the world’s leading LNG exporter. Green ammonia can be produced from green hydrogen, which is a known renewable energy source. Australia already has plans for major green hydrogen plants. In addition, ammonia is widely used there in agriculture, most commonly as a fertiliser.
  • What about supply chain challenges?
    DNV forecasts that ammonia can be safely shipped, stored and used on vessels wherever they operate. They could be fuelled in Europe, Australia, Japan, Singapore or elsewhere in Asia. The classification society doesn’t foresee any limit to the amount of ammonia that could be produced in time, but of course it would be wise for Singapore to not just rely on one source for its ammonia supply chain.
  • What about attaining scale in the production of ammonia?
    Almost all ammonia in use today is made from hydrocarbons, so production of clean and green ammonia definitely needs to scale up considerably to decarbonise the shipping industry’s fuel supply. Green ammonia could well become one of the predominant marine fuels in the future. It can be produced – at scale – by electrolysis, powered by renewables, ideally green hydrogen. There are a number of trials under way in Europe and Japan, so it’s feasible to expect that in four to five years’ time, the maritime industry will be in a position to start using ammonia as a marine fuel, alongside LNG or hydrogen.Already ship engines are being designed and built by Wärtsila and MAN, which will be able to be fuelled by ammonia and LNG. Wärtsila anticipates having an engine concept capable of operating fully on ammonia in 2023.10
  • What about setting standards for ammonia’s maritime use?
    As DNV is actively involved in driving business forward through the development of standards, specifications and guidelines, it is working with others inside and outside themaritime industry to collaborate on research and technical evaluation of ammonia – and other potential marine fuels – to ensure that it can be safely deployed on vessels around the world. For more information see the DNV white paper on “Ammonia as a marine fuel”.11

To sum up, Dr Shahrin Osman, Regional Head of Maritime Advisory for DNV, doesn’t see any “showstoppers” for ammonia to prevent it from playing a primary role as a marine fuel in the future.

Dr Shahrin Osman DNV MT
Dr Shahrin Osman

“From our studies and from industry trials conducted in many parts of the world, there is no obstacle that we can see that’s in the way of ammonia.”

“Taking all these factors into consideration, we think ammonia is one of the best options for the decarbonisation of the maritime industry. And we could feasibly see ammonia playing a key role as a marine fuel out of Singapore, too”, Dr Osman affirms.

Just as DNV played a significant role in pioneering the use of LNG in shipping, he believes green ammonia is in line to go through a similar development, just quicker.

“With the right level of commitment and concentrated effort, we think it is possible that ammonia could replace LNG as the dominant alternative shipping fuel. By collaborative effort – governments and industry – we can see this getting well on the way by 2030,” he believes.

As always there are challenges, but also considerable opportunities, points out Dr Osman’s colleague Linda Sigrid Hammer, the lead author of DNV’s Maritime Forecast to 2050:

“Shipowners need strategies and practical solutions to stay compliant and commercially competitive, while meeting regulatory and stakeholder requirements for decarbonising vessel and fleet operations. Correctly assessing the technology, fuel and energy production/infrastructure landscape can enable owners to comply with prescribed or even more ambitious carbon reduction trajectories.”12

Could green ammonia be “the major disrupter” for the maritime industry, as it embarks on its decarbonisation journey to attain Net Zero?

While increasingly convinced of the viability of green ammonia, DNV sees it as but one of a range of alternative fuels and strategies which need to be put to the test.

It’s equally important to keep in mind a number of essential measures towards maritime industry decarbonisation, including greater energy efficiency, fuel flexibility and weighing up all Fuel Ready solutions. Hence, the last word must go to Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, the CEO of DNV Maritime:

“By working together as an industry (and beyond), embracing fuel flexibility and consulting with expert partners, such as class, shipping can, and indeed must, reach its destination. The true fuel of the future is collaboration.”13


[1] Podcast: In Conversation with DNV and the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation
[2] IMO Fourth Greenhouse Gas study 2020
[3] Foundation Det Norske Veritas contributes S$10 million to help launch a maritime decarbonization centre in Singapore
[4] Singapore: A model for a decarbonised maritime sector by Dr Sanjay Kuttan
[5] Maritime Forecast to 2050. DNV’s Energy Transition Outlook 2021
[6] IEA’s Ammonia Technology Roadmap
[7] Findings from the Newcastlemax bulk carrier evaluation
[8] Norway’s Green Shipping Programme (GSP) “Ammonia as a fuel pilot” with Color Line
[9] Ammonia as a Marine Fuel Safety Handbook
[10] Wärtsilä’s role in developing engines for operation on future clean fuels
[11] DNV: Group Technology & Research, White Paper 2020: Ammonia as a marine fuel
[12] Evaluating future fuel strategies and their design implications for newbuilds. Case study
[13] The true fuel of the future is collaboration, DNV Maritime CEO in Maritime Forecast to 2050

Photo credit: DNV
Published: 10 December, 2021

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Kambara Kisen orders methanol dual-fuel bulker from Tsuneishi Shipbuilding

Firm ordered a 65,700-dwt methanol dual-fuel dry bulk carrier with Tsuneishi Shipbuilding; MOL signed a basic agreement on time charter for the newbuilding that is slated to be delivered in 2027.





Kambara Kisen orders methanol dual-fuel bulker from Tsuneishi Shipbuilding

Japanese shipowner Kambara Kisen has ordered a 65,700-dwt methanol dual-fuel dry bulk carrier newbuilding from Tsuneishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd, according to Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) on Wednesday (20 September).

MOL said it signed a basic agreement on time charter for the newbuilding that is slated to be delivered in 2027. 

The vessel will be designed to use e-methanol produced primarily by synthesising recovered CO2 and hydrogen produced using renewable energy sources, and bio-methanol derived from biogas. 

The vessel's design maximises cargo space while ensuring sufficient methanol tank capacity set to allow the required navigational distance assuming various routes, at the same time maximising cargo space. 

MOL added the vessel is expected to serve mainly in the transport of biomass fuels from the east coast of North America to Europe and the U.K. and within the Pacific region, as well as grain from the east coast of South America and the U.S. Gulf Coast to Europe and the Far East.

Details on the time-charter contract:

Shipowner: Kambara Kisen wholly owned subsidiary
Charterer: MOL Drybulk Ltd.
Charter period 2027: -

Details on the newbuilding methanol dual fuel bulk carrier:

LOA: About 200 m
Breadth: About 32.25 m
Draft: About 13.80 m
Deadweight: About 65,700 MT
Hold capacity: About 81,500m3
Shipyard: Tsuneishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.

Photo credit: Mitsui O.S.K. Lines
Published: 22 September, 2023

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Argus Media: Alternatives may drive methanol market growth

Driven by low-carbon policies and regulations, the transportation sector — especially the marine fuels industry — could be a source of heightened demand, according to Argus.





RESIZED Argus media

The growth of sustainable alternatives to traditional methanol production sources likely will shape the market over the next several years, industry leaders said this week at the Argus Methanol Forum.

20 September 

Driven by low-carbon policies and regulations, the transportation sector — especially the marine fuels industry — could be a source of heightened demand.

"The aim is to be net zero by 2050 but [those solutions are] expensive today and one of the main challenges to build e-methanol or bio-methanol plants is a huge queue for these pieces of equipment that aren't available," Anita Gajadhar, executive director for Swiss-based methanol producer Proman, said.

Bio-based and e-methanol plants of commercial scale, like Proman's natural gas-fed 1.9 million metric tonne/yr M5000 plant in Trinidad and Tobago, are not ready today.

"But that's not to say 10 years from now they won't be there," Gajadhar added.

Smaller projects are popping up. Dutch fuels and gas supplier OCI Global announced plans last week to double the green methanol capacity at its Beaumont, Texas, facility to 400,000 t/yr and will add e-methanol to production for the first time. Production will use feedstocks such as renewable natural gas (RNG), green hydrogen and biogas.

The globally oversupplied methanol market will not get any major supply additions starting in 2024 until 2027. But that oversupply will not last long, Gajadhar said.

Global demand has slowed this year, driven by stagnate economic growth and higher interest rates, according to industry observers.

As much as half of methanol demand is tied to GDP growth, with total methanol demand estimates at 88.9mn t globally in 2023. This is essentially flat from 2022, but up from 88.3m t in 2021 and 87.7mn t in 2020, Dave McCaskill, vice-president of methanol and derivatives for Argus Media's consulting service, said.

Demand is not expected to rebound to 2019 levels of 89.6mn t until 2024 or 2025, he added.

The period of oversupply combined with lackluster demand places methanol in a transition period, Gajadhar said, which opens the door for sustainable feedstock alternatives to shape market growth.

Danish container shipping giant Maersk and French marine logistics company CMA-CGM announced earlier this week a partnership to drive decarbonization in shipping. The partnership seeks to develop fuel and operations standards for bunkering with alternative fuels. The companies will develop net-zero solutions, including new technology and alternative fuels.

Maersk has previously ordered dual-fuel methanol-powered vessels and CMA-CGM LNG-propelled vessels.

The demand for alternative feedstock-derived fuels is there, but the ability to scale-up such production lags. Certified lower-carbon methanol produced using carbon capture and sequestration — also known as blue methanol— can ramp up much more quickly, according to Gajadhar.

By Steven McGinn

Photo credit and source: Argus Media
Published: 22 September, 2023

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Royal Caribbean completes over 12 weeks of bio bunker fuel testing in Europe

Firm expanded its biofuel testing this summer in Europe to two additional ships — Royal Caribbean International’s “Symphony of the Seas” and Celebrity Cruises’ “Celebrity Apex”.





Royal Caribbean completes over 12 weeks of bio bunker fuel testing in Europe

Royal Caribbean Group on Tuesday (19 September) said it successfully completed over 12 consecutive weeks of biofuel testing in Europe. 

Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas became the first ship in the maritime industry to successfully test and use a biofuel blend in Barcelona to meet part of her fuel needs. 

The company confirmed onboard technical systems met operational standards, without quality or safety concerns, demonstrating the biofuel blend is a reliable “drop in” supply of lower emission energy that ships can use to set sail across Europe and beyond. 

The tests across Europe also provided valuable data to understand the availability and scalability of biofuel in the region, the firm added. 

Jason Liberty, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group, said: “This is a pivotal moment for Royal Caribbean Group’s alternative fuel journey.”

“Following our successful trial of biofuels this summer, we are one step closer to bringing our vision for net-zero cruising to life. As we strive to protect and promote the vibrant oceans we sail, we are determined to accelerate innovation and improve how we deliver vacation experiences responsibly.”

President of the Port of Barcelona, Lluís Salvadó, said: “Royal Caribbean’s success is a clear example of how commitment to innovation makes possible the development of solutions to decarbonise the maritime sector.”

“In this case, it involves the cruise sector and focuses on biofuels, an area in which the Port of Barcelona is already working to become an energy hub, producing and supplying zero carbon fuels, such as green hydrogen and ammonia, and of other almost zero-carbon alternative fuels, such as methanol, biofuels or synthetic fuels. Innovation and collaboration between ports and shipping companies is key to accelerate the decarbonisation of maritime transport.”

The company began testing biofuels last year and expanded the trail this summer in Europe to two additional ships — Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Apex

The sustainable biofuel blends tested were produced by purifying renewable raw materials like waste oils and fats and combining them with fuel oil to create an alternative fuel that is cleaner and more sustainable. The biofuel blends tested are accredited by International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC), a globally recognized organization that ensures sustainability of biofuels and verifies reductions of related emissions.

With Symphony of the Seas departing from the Port of Barcelona and Celebrity Apex departing from the Port of Rotterdam, both ships accomplished multiple sailings using biofuel and contributed critical data on the fuel’s capabilities. 

“These results will help accelerate Royal Caribbean Group’s plans to continue testing the use of different types of biofuels on upcoming European sailings this fall. The company is exploring strategic partnerships with suppliers and ports to ensure the availability of biofuel and infrastructures to advance the maritime energy transition,” the firm said. 

Photo credit: Royal Caribbean Group 
Published: 22 September, 2023

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