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Exclusive: Banle Group sets sights on expanding bunker supply network with successful IPO on Nasdaq

Following closing of CBL International Limited’s IPO on Nasdaq Capital Market, Banle Group revealed to Manifold Times its plans of enlarging the number of local marine fuel suppliers and increasing its bunkering options to customers.

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MT photos 13 February 2023 40

In an exclusive interview with Singapore-based bunkering publication Manifold Times, marine fuel logistics firm Banle Group recently shared insights on the recent successful listing of CBL International Limited, its listing vehicle, on the Nasdaq Capital Market. 

Mr. Teck Lim Chia, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer provides details on how much was raised in the initial public offering (IPO) and its plans on using the net proceeds to further grow and strengthen its bunkering business:

MT: Could you give our readers a brief introduction of the Banle Group? 

Banle Group is an established marine fuel logistic company in Asia Pacific providing customers with one stop solution for vessel refuelling. We are a bunkering facilitator as referred to in the bunkering industry.

Our main market is the Asia Pacific market with business activities taking place in the major ports of Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and other countries like Turkey, Belgium.

We currently have a network of over 40 ports in Asia Pacific region to supply marine fuel to our customers, making us one of the few bunkering facilitators that can provide network-based service in this part of the world.

We strive to provide our customers with the best quality bunker services and to become our customers’ best partner in providing tailor made and flexible solutions for vessel refuelling.

MT: How much was raised during the IPO? Was it USD 13.3million or oversubscribed at USD 15.3 million?

Initially, we offered 3,325,000 shares at an offering price of US$4 per share, raising USD 13.3 million. At the time of the IPO, the underwriters exercised their over-allotment in part for an additional 425,000 shares, hence, totalling 3,750,000 shares being offered, raising USD 15 million.

MT: During the announcement of the IPO, Banle said it intends to use the net proceeds to ‘enlarge the number of local suppliers to enhance its competitiveness’. Could Banle elaborate what this means to the bunkering industry? 

We intend to establish new business relationships with additional local bunker suppliers in additional ports for which we will need the financial resources to make payments in advance for transactions before those local suppliers consider offering any trade credit to us.

Making use of the proceeds from the IPO, we intend to commence the business relationships with the new suppliers who may request payment in advance, or the issuance of letter of credit for their sales of the marine fuel.

MT: Banle also announced it intends to use the net proceeds to ‘increase the service options available in the Singapore and South Korea markets’? How does this trickle down into Banle’s bunkering business?

We constantly receive inquiries from customers for quotations and orders. However, in the past, we may not be able to fulfil all enquiries due to limitation of financial resources or lacking sufficient local bunker supplies in certain ports. As mentioned above, with the proceeds from the IPO and the expansion of our network of supply, we are now in a better position to establish new business relationships with additional local supplies, which in turn, will increase our ability to provide more bunkering options to our customers.

MT: In relation to the above two questions above on Banle’s intentions on utilising the funds, what is Banle’s plan to turn them into reality?

We intend to penetrate the market by soliciting new marine fuel suppliers to capture the demand from our existing customers or new customers in the Singapore market. In particular, we intend to establish such new business relationships with local suppliers for which we might need to pay in advance for transactions. To facilitate market development in Singapore, we have set up a new office in Singapore and employed two staff members.

Similar to Singapore, it is a challenge for us to obtain trade credit from local suppliers without established business relationships. With our aim to strengthen our supply network in South Korea, we plan to develop business relationships with potential suppliers in Ulsan and other ports in South Korea in order for us to provide a more flexible supply network to meet the demand of our existing customers and potential customers. To facilitate market development in South Korea, we have employed one staff member who is based in South Korea.

MT: Can you describe the challenges to execute Banle’s expansion plans and how will the company overcome them in current market conditions?

The fluctuations in marine fuel price may affect our working capital requirements. If the marine fuel prices increase substantially, we could only purchase less marine fuel from our suppliers with the same level of financial resources. We are therefore vulnerable to such unfavourable changes from the fluctuation of marine fuel prices. In the event that there is a significant increase in the price of marine fuel, we might require additional working capital in order to fulfil our customers’ needs.

To mitigate the effects of working capital limitation and unexpected increase in marine fuel price, it is our strategy to strengthen the financial resources available to us by utilising bank facilities and to obtain better trade credit from our suppliers.

 

Photo credit: Banle Group
Published: 13 June, 2023

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Fuel Testing

Singapore: CTI-Maritec shares testing protocols ahead of mandatory enhanced bunker fuel checks

In light of mandatory enhanced checks for marine fuel delivered at Singapore port coming into effect on 1 June, CTI-Maritec shares recommendations for fuel testing protocols, primarily focused at COCs and SAN detection for bunker supply in Singapore.

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Louis Reed from Unsplash

With mandatory enhanced checks for marine fuel delivered at Singapore port coming into effect on 1 June, bunker fuel testing and marine surveying business Maritec Pte Ltd (CTI-Maritec) has published a newsletter providing recommendations on vital pre-emptive fuel testing measures vessels should be taking as part of their routine fuel testing and also recommendations on optimal testing options available when deep-dive analysis is required to determine a root cause: 

Introduction

On 8 February 2024 the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) issued a Port Marine Circular No 3 of 2024 regarding the implementation of enhanced testing parameters for marine fuel batches intended to be delivered as bunkers in the Port of Singapore in addition to the existing quality assurance measures.

In accordance with the MPA’s Port Marine Circular No 3 of 2024, from 1 June 2024 onwards, bunker suppliers in the Port of Singapore must ensure that:

  • Residual & Bio-residual bunker fuel do not contain Chlorinated Organic Compounds (COC) above 50mg/kg and are free from inorganic acids.
  • COC must be tested using the EN 14077 accredited test method and shall be reported in the “Certificate of Quality” (COQ) provided to receiving vessels.
  • Inorganic acids must use the ASTM D664 accredited test method as prescribed in ISO 8217 and the Strong Acid Number (SAN) (in addition to the Total Acid Number (TAN) shall be reported in the COQ (i.e. SAN = 0) provided to receiving vessels. For distillate / bio-distillate bunker marine fuel batches, SAN must be tested as per ASTM D664 test method and reported in the COQ.
  • Residual marine fuels are free from polystyrene, polypropylene & polymethacrylate. These can be tested by filtration, microscopic examination, & Fourier-Transform Infrared spectroscopy analysis.

Testing Recommendations in line with MPA Enhanced Parameters to Protect Your Vessels:

In view of the above, CTI-Maritec recommends fuel testing protocols as depicted in the chart below (as routine pre-emptive measures and/or for deep dive requirements to detect the root cause) to help safeguard vessel health.

Our recommendations are primarily focused at COCs and SAN detection for bunker supply in Singapore, while recommendations for testing Polymers are advised for requirements of reported problem cases or when highly abnormal GCMS findings of chemical compounds like Styrene, DCPD and Indene are detected.

COC & SAN GCMS testing Packages A to E

Related: Singapore: CTI-Maritec publishes whitepaper on upcoming mandatory enhanced bunker fuel tests
Related: Singapore: Marine fuel quality testing agencies applaud move for mandatory enhanced bunker fuel tests
Related: Singapore: MPA tightens testing parameters to reduce contaminated bunker fuels
Related: MPA: Glencore and PetroChina supplied contaminated bunkers to about 200 ships in the Port of Singapore

 

Photo credit: Louis Reed from Unsplash
Published: 29 May 2024

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Methanol

VPS conducts assessment on first SIMOPS methanol bunkering op in Singapore

Firm was appointed by OCI Methanol Europe to conduct a quantity and quality assessment of a methanol bunker fuel delivery to “Eco Maestro” in Singapore.

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VPS conducts assessment on first SIMOPS methanol bunkering op in Singapore

Marine fuels testing company VPS on Tuesday (28 May) said it was appointed by OCI Methanol Europe, part of the OCI Global Group, to conduct a quantity and quality assessment of a methanol fuel delivery to Eco Maestro in Singapore.

Captain Rahul Choudhuri, President Strategic Partnerships, VPS, said VPS survey experts Rafael Theseira and Muhd Nazmi Abdul Rahim were at hand during the methanol bunkering to ensure the 300 metric tonnes of methanol transfer was carried out smoothly, having been involved in the first methanol bunkering a year ago. 

Manifold Times recently reported X-Press Feeders, Global Energy Trading Pte Ltd (GET), and PSA Singapore (PSA) successfully completing the first simultaneous methanol bunkering and cargo operation (SIMOPS) in Singapore.

A X-Press Feeder container vessel, Eco Maestro, on its maiden voyage from Asia to Europe was successfully refuelled with close to 300 mt of bio-methanol by GET, a MPA licensed bunker supplier, using MT KARA

The ISCC-certified bio-methanol used for the SIMOPS was produced by green methanol producer OCI Global and supplied via GET, a ISCC-certified supplier.

Captain Choudhuri said the role of the marine, petroleum or bunker surveyor has evolved over the years in shipping and maritime affairs, but the principles have not - and that is to provide independent assessment of the quality and quantity of the product transfer. 

“This may seem obvious but this quality and quantity control is crucial to avoid commercial discrepancies, shortages or fraud,” he said.

“Safety training is critical and we have been on top of this having completed the required MPA fire-fighting course and the IBIA Methanol training course. We will work more with the Singapore Maritime Academy for trainings in future,” he added.

In August last year, Singapore-headquartered independent common carrier X-Press Feeders launched its first ever dual-fuel vessel Eco Maestro in China.

Manifold Times previously reported VPS stating it was the first company to complete a methanol bunker quantity survey (BQS) operation in Singapore on 27 July last year.

VPS was appointed by Maersk and Hong Lam Marine Pte Ltd, to undertake the very first bunker quantity survey (BQS) of a methanol fuel delivery, supplied by Hong Lam to the Maersk vessel on its maiden voyage to Europe. 

Related: First SIMOPS methanol bunkering operation completed in Singapore
Related: VPS completes quantity survey on Singapore’s first methanol bunkering op
Related: Singapore bunkering sector enters milestone with first methanol marine refuelling op
Related: X-Press Feeders launches its first methanol dual-fuel vessel “Eco Maestro” in China

 

Photo credit: VPS
Published: 29 May 2024

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LNG Bunkering

Gasum and Equinor ink continuation of long-term LNG bunkering agreement

Agreement builds on the success of the previous contract Gasum has had with Equinor; Gasum’s bunker vessels “Coralius”, “Kairos” and “Coral Energy” will be used for the bunkering operations.

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Gasum and Equinor ink continuation of long-term LNG bunkering agreement

Nordic liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunker supplier Gasum on Tuesday (28 May) said it signed a long-term contract with Norway-based global energy company Equinor whereby Gasum continues to supply LNG to Equinor’s dual-fuel chartered fleet of vessels. 

The agreement builds on the success of the previous contract Gasum has had with Equinor. Gasum’s bunker vessels Coralius, Kairos and Coral Energy will be used for the bunkering operations.

The agreement also includes additional support services such as cooling down and gassing up, which has also been a part of Gasum’s previous collaboration with Equinor. 

Gasum has organised three separate LNG cool down operations for Equinor in Skagen so far this year.

Both Gasum and Equinor have committed to sustainability goals to enable a cleaner energy future. Equinor’s ambition is to become a net-zero emissions energy company by 2050.

Using LNG in maritime transport means complete removal of sulfur oxides (SOx) and particles, and reduction of nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions of up to 85 percent as well as a reduction in CO2 emissions by at least 20%. LNG is interchangeable with liquefied biogas (LBG/bio-LNG), which reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 90% compared to conventional fuel such as marine gasoil (MGO).

With LNG and bio-LNG the maritime industry can reduce emissions already today, instead of waiting for future solutions. Gasum’s strategic goal is to bring yearly seven terawatt hours (7 TWh) of renewable gas to market by 2027. Achieving this goal would mean combined carbon dioxide reduction of 1.8 million tons per year for Gasum’s customers.

Related: Equinor Energy AS extends LNG bunkering agreement with Gasum
Related: Gasum expands LNG bunkering business to ARA region through partnership with Equinor

 

Photo credit: Gasum
Published: 29 May 2024

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