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Alternative Fuels

Dubai: Shipowners and peers discuss realities of biofuel adoption at VPS Biofuels Seminar

ADNOC L&S, Gulf Energy Maritime, Cockett Marine Oil, Mideast/Bahri Ship Management and VPS experts present their views on biofuel bunker hurdles at the VPS Biofuels Seminar in Dubai on 16 March.




VPS Biofuels Seminar Dubai

Challenges of adopting biofuel as part of shipping’s decarbonisation drive were amongst topics discussed by expert panelists at the VPS Biofuels Seminar in Dubai on Thursday (16 March).

The session found local United Arab Emirates-based players already engaging in respective emission reduction trials before IMO 2030 – with many arriving at their own set of conclusions.

ADNOC L&S – Embracing biofuels in the ‘year of sustainability’ 

Eng Khalid Al Shehhi, Marine Projects Manager, ADNOC L&S noted the maritime logistics arm of ADNOC Group already adopting biofuels for certain commercial operations on the back of “very successful” biofuel trials completed earlier in 2020.

He noted relationship with OEMs as key to supporting ADNOC L&S’ plan of using B20 biofuel; however, the company eventually decided to commit to B5 biofuel even though vessels initially passed B20 trials.

“One of the primary challenges in adopting alternative fuels [biofuel] is the high cost when compared to conventional fossil fuels. As a consequence of our biofuel trials, we determined B5 blend as being more suited for our operating model and emission reductions aim,” he said.

Eng Khalid noted 2023 to be the “year of sustainability” for the UAE due to the upcoming 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) to be held in the region.

“Our efforts at ADNOC L&S are motivated by ADNOC sustainability targets for 2030 and IMO future emissions reduction targets; for this, we are investigating viable decarbonisation alternatives, with biofuels serving as a viable drop-in option.”

Gulf Energy Maritime – Alternative marine fuels ‘a gamble’ for shipowners

Rajeev Gupta, Head of Fleet, Gulf Energy Maritime (GEM) said shipowners such as themselves are facing challenges sourcing for alternative bunker fuels even though the sector has been focusing on decarbonisation.

“It's not an easy decision selecting the engine for a newbuilding today but I would probably go for a dual fuel LNG engine just because there is some infrastructure for bunkering LNG,” said Rajeev.

“As Eng Khalid mentioned, cost is certainly an issue and it's not an easy decision for an operator to take that extra cost because the charterers are not going to pay extra for more expensive bunker fuel.” 

He noted methanol to be a marine fuel favouring chemical tankers but showed apprehension to ammonia being used as a bunker fuel due to its potential dangers.

“It’s a multi-faceted problem and there are no quick solutions that are cheap and easily available; so, I would say it’s a gamble,” highlighted Rajeev.

“IMO is implementing the regulation but the governments and port states are still far behind in implementing the infrastructure to be able to provide these fuels. 

“Unfortunately, the owners become the guinea pigs of having to comply with the regulation, install an engine, but then go searching around the world for suitable fuel.”

Cockett Marine Oil – Biofuels a ‘chicken and egg’ situation

Colin Holloway, Global Head-Technical, Cockett Marine Oil meanwhile noted the firm experiencing a lack of mainstream demand for alternative bunker fuels, including biofuels, but believed marine fuel suppliers will gladly provide avails when enquiries increase.

“I think we’ve already got the idea that it’s a chicken and egg situation. To be honest, to date, we don’t see very much enquiries for biofuel in the UAE and because of that, there’s probably not much availability,” shared Holloway.

“There are a few minor suppliers that are supplying biofuel by truck where you can purchase biodiesel [i.e. B5, B15, etc] but in the interim we can say demand for biofuels have not picked up in the main stream bunker business.

“There is availability for biofuel but not on the scale that is probably needed at this time. However, I am sure the trading companies will supply when demand hits and especially when EU regulations bite from 2024 onwards.”

Mideast/Bahri Ship Management – Adopting a ‘wait-and-see’ approach towards biofuels 

Hendrik Atsma, Snr Manager, Mideast/Bahri Ship Management, noted the company has currently applied a wait-and-see approach towards the adoption of biofuels as bunkers for its fleet.

Though certain countries have been implementing subsidies to assist local shipowners in adopting biofuels for their fleets, Atsma felt biofuels do not present a complete solution towards decarbonisation due to potential environmental issues such as deforestation. So, footprint and fingerprint of biofuels sources will be important.

“We do our research for biofuels and are also in talks with engine makers and bunker suppliers,” he said.

“At some point, we even had the idea of starting a trial although unfortunately we decided not to go ahead because of liability issues. We will wait and see what some of the other major players are doing.”

VPS – Biofuel carriage misalignment of flag states, port authorities present hurdle 

Captain Rahul Choudhuri, Managing Director for Asia, Middle East & Africa (AMEA) at VPS, who was moderating the session, called attention to the current misalignment of biofuel policies between flag states and port authorities as a hurdle for its adoption as a marine fuel.

IMO’s Marine Environment Committee in June 2022 approved a new Unified Interpretation (UI) on the application of regulation 18.3 MARPOL Annex VI in relation to biofuels, allowing biofuel blends up to B30 be regarded in the same way as regular oil-based fuels.

“The current MARPOL Annex II allows carriage of up to 24% FAME; however in principle, if you’re above that limit, then as a bunker tanker or bunker barge, you can’t carry it unless you have a chemical tanker notation,” explained Captain Choudhuri.

“Whereas for example, Singapore has implemented a biofuel standard called the WA 2:2022 which allows carriage of up to 50% FAME. 

“That brings the position of flag states into play because at the moment vessels, owners and operators need flag state approval before they carry and burn biofuel. This means though Singapore is fine with its bunker tankers and flagged vessels burning biofuels, the other flags might not be agreeable.

“There’s a need for MARPOL, port authorities and flag states to align respective policies, including the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) & CII (Carbon Intensity Indicator) on the carriage of biofuels because this difference will be a potential hurdle when the product becomes a mainstream bunker fuel.”

Related: VPS to hosts round table meet on biofuel bunkers and its challenges in Greece in March
Related: Singapore: VPS panel discussion presents a masterclass in shipping’s biofuel bunker adoption issues to the deck
Related: GCMD-led consortium completes trials of sustainable biofuel bunker supply chains
Related: VPS: Shipowners turn to ‘highly reactive’ Cashew Nut Shell Liquid (CNSL) biofuel blends for marine fuel
Related: VPS organises seminar on biofuel bunkers in Singapore
Related: VPS launches APS-BIO offering biofuels protection service against potential damage


Photo credit: VPS
Published: 22 March, 2023

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Alternative Fuels

SMW 2024: All hands on deck to overcome net-zero fuel transition challenges, says panellists

Ammonia is touted as the long-term fuel solution, but safety concerns and novel technology could hinder its widespread application.





SMW 2024: All hands on deck to overcome net-zero fuel transition challenges, says panellists

The article ‘All hands on deck to overcome net-zero fuel transition challenges: panellists’ was first published on Issue 4 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:

By Matthew Gan

Ammonia is emerging as the key net-zero fuel of the future, but the maritime industry faces several challenges in its large-scale adoption.

A critical concern is safety. Ammonia poses safety  risks because of the high volume of explosive engine combustions, and the gas’ toxicity.

“Safety is the most crucial thing – both environmental and operator safety,” said Mr Hiroki Kobayashi, Chief Executive Officer at heavy industries firm IHI Asia Pacific, at the Net-Zero Fuel Pathways Panel during the Accelerating Digitalisation and Decarbonisation Conference on Wednesday.

Given the focus on safety, a substantial proportion of resources should be spent on ensuring ammonia technology is safe, added Mr Nicolas Brabeck, Managing Director at energy provider MAN Energy Solutions Singapore.

What will help, noted Mr Kenneth Widell, Senior Project Manager (Smart Technology Hub) at marine and energy solutions provider Wartsila, is having stakeholders share information on safe ammonia usage.

Another challenge is training seafarers to use novel technology. But panellists agreed that it should not deter the industry from pursuing the widespread adoption of ammonia.

“All this is new to us, but we can start training early, collect feedback, and adjust accordingly,” said Mr Leonardo Sonzio, Vice-President and Head of Fleet Management and Technology at global shipping company Maersk.

Stakeholders should also collaborate more, said Mr Robert van Nielen, Vice-President (Growth) at liquid storage logistics provider Advario. “There are many things to set up – supply chains, logistics, safety protocols and training – but we need to transition. And if we want to make this change in time, we must work together,” he said.

As moderator Mr Knut Orbeck-Nilssen, Chief Executive Officer (Maritime) at registrar and classification society DNV, put it in his closing remarks: “The fuel of the future, really, is collaboration.”

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


Photo credit: Knut Orbeck-Nilssen / DNV
Article credit: The Nutgraf/ Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 24 April 2024

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LNG Bunkering

TotalEnergies announces FID for first LNG bunkering hub in the Middle East

LNG production from LNG liquefaction plant in port of Sohar, as part of Marsa project, is expected to start by first quarter 2028 and is primarily intended for LNG bunkering in the Gulf.





TotalEnergies announces FID for first LNG bunkering hub in the Middle East

Energy company TotalEnergies and Oman National Oil Company on Monday (22 April) announced the Final Investment Decision (FID) for the Marsa LNG plant project.

TotalEnergies had signed a Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) with Oman LNG to offtake 0.8 Mtpa of LNG for ten years from 2025, making the company one of the main offtaker of Oman LNG's production.

Finally, TotalEnergies (49%) and OQ Alternative Energy (51%), the national renewable energy champion, have confirmed being at an advanced stage of discussions to jointly develop a portfolio of up to 800 MW, including the 300 MWp solar project that will supply Marsa LNG.

Through their joint company Marsa Liquefied Natural Gas (Marsa), TotalEnergies (80%) and OQ (20%) launch the integrated Marsa LNG project which combines:

  • upstream gas production: 150 Mcf/d of natural gas, coming from the 33.19% interest held by Marsa in the Mabrouk North-East field on onshore Block 10, which will provide the required feedstock for the LNG plant. Block 10 production started in January 2023 and reached plateau in April 2024. The FID allows Marsa LNG to extend its rights in Block 10 until its term in 2050.
  • downstream gas liquefaction: a 1 Mt/y capacity LNG liquefaction plant will be built in the port of Sohar. The LNG production is expected to start by first quarter 2028 and is primarily intended to serve the marine fuel market (LNG bunkering) in the Gulf. LNG quantities not sold as bunker fuel will be off-taken by TotalEnergies (80%) and OQ (20%).
  • renewable power generation: a dedicated 300 MWp PV solar plant will be built to cover 100% of the annual power consumption of the LNG plant, allowing a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

The Marsa LNG plant will be 100% electrically driven and supplied with solar power, positioning the site as one of the lowest GHG emissions intensity LNG plants ever built worldwide, with a GHG intensity below 3 kg CO2e/boe. (for reference, the average emission intensity of LNG plants is around 35 kg CO2e/boe - this represents a reduction in emissions of more than 90%).

The main Engineering, Procurement and Construction contracts have been awarded to Technip Energies for the LNG plant and to CB&I for the 165,000 m3 LNG tank.

The Marsa LNG project will generate long-term employment opportunities and significant socio-economic benefits for the city of Sohar and the region.

The first LNG bunkering hub in the Middle East

The ambition of the Marsa LNG project is to serve as the first LNG bunkering hub in the Middle East, showcasing an available and competitive alternative marine fuel to reduce the shipping industry's emissions. 

“We are proud to open a new chapter in our history in the Sultanate of Oman with the launch of the Marsa LNG project, together with our partner OQ, demonstrating our long-term commitment to the country. We are especially pleased to deploy the two pillars of our transition strategy, LNG and renewables, and thus support the Sultanate on a new scale in the sustainable development of its energy resources”, said Patrick Pouyanné, Chairman and CEO of TotalEnergies.

“This very innovative project illustrates our pioneer spirit and showcases the relevance of our integrated multi-energy strategy, with the ambition of being a responsible player in the energy transition. By paving the way for the next generation of very low emission LNG plants, Marsa LNG is contributing to making gas a long-term transition energy.”


Photo credit: TotalEnergies
Published: 24 April 2024

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Carras “Aquataurus” bulker becomes world’s first vessel to receive ABS Biofuel-1 notation

Notation is assigned to vessels that use a biofuel blend of up to and including 30% bio fuel in compliance with IMO and ABS requirements, says ABS.





Carras “Aquataurus” bulker becomes world’s first vessel to receive ABS Biofuel-1 notation

Carras (Hellas) S.A. received the ABS Biofuel-1 notation for its Aquataurus ultramax bulk carrier, the first vessel in the world to qualify, according to the classification society on Tuesday (23 April).

The notation is assigned to vessels that use a biofuel blend of up to and including 30% biofuel in compliance with IMO and ABS requirements.

ABS said biofuels’ suitability with existing power generation systems makes them a drop-in solution without the need for equipment retrofits or vessel redesign. 

The Aquataurus is equipped with a Wartsilla main engine and three auxiliary Yanmar engines and will serve trade routes worldwide.

“We are very proud to support Carras (Hellas) S.A. in their initiative to use biofuels as part of their sustainability strategy. Drop-in biofuels are a ‘here-now’ solution since they take advantage of existing fuel transport and bunkering infrastructure. ABS is well-positioned to use our deep industry knowledge of alternative fuels to support clients along their decarbonization journey,” said Stamatis Fradelos, ABS Vice President, Regulatory Affairs.

“Carras (Hellas) S.A. is pleased to be working with ABS to support our common goal of  reducing fleet emissions for the benefit of the environment. The use of biofuels allows shipowners to reduce their fleet carbon intensity without the cost of expensive retrofits or investments in newbuildings, and we are excited to be pioneers, together with ABS, of obtaining the assignment of the Biofuel-1 notation to Aquataurus,” said Captain Costas Liadis, President of Carras (Hellas) S.A.


Photo credit: ABS
Published: 24 April 2024

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