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FUJCON 2021: Panelists in showdown on relative costs of clean bunker fuels

05 Apr 2021

Panelists representing respective interests in ‘future’ marine fuels on Wednesday (24 March) shared their perspectives and experience to date with liquified natural gas (LNG), hydrogen, liquified petroleum gas (LPG), methanol and biofuels at the 12th Fujairah International Bunkering and Fuel Oil Virtual Forum (FUJCON 2021).

While most of the first half of the session was regarding the sustainability of these fuels Vivek Chandra of LNG Entrepreneur pointed out it is important to discuss the relative costs of these fuels.

“I understand LPG a great deal, I understand that it’s easily available, it’s a simple fuel […] I have an LPG tank in my backyard for my barbecue right now and it’s very easy to get filled. My point is, it is not that cheap,” states Chandra.

“It’s actually a very expensive fuel and I would venture to say in most parts of the world, it’s a lot more expensive than LNG and of course a way more expensive than any low sulphur oils. So how do you get over that?”

Anders Onarheim, Chief Executive Officer, BW LPG agreed that LPG is “quite expensive” but was positive of its long term gains. 

“There’s no question today that LPG is quite expensive relative to when we made the decision […] but I think if you look at forward prices we still see a nice payback over five to six years, when you look at the price,” replies Onarheim.

“Obviously we think LPG is underrated but I also think the fact that we’re actually making decisions and implementing them rather than just writing in our annual report that we care about sustainability. That to me is important.”

Gary Hubbard, Chief Commercial Officer, Neutral Fuels Company meanwhile was confident his company which provide biofuels in India and in Bahrain will be able to meet the price points required by the markets; however, he pointed out the product faces a challenge.

“The challenge for us, as with any fuel is the feedstock […] and as an organisation we don’t believe in government subsidies or handouts or bailouts or anything like that,” shares Hubbard.

“The more that can be done […] to optimise our waste into usable biofuels, then the cheaper the fuel becomes. Ultimately that makes it operationally sustainable, financially sustainable, and absolutely environmentally sustainable.”

Chris Chatterton, COO, Methanol Institute explains all fuels will become more expensive if they are cleaner and methanol is a highly pure product.

“Methanol’s energy content is considerably more than ammonia and substantially more than hydrogen, so it’s a fuel that can take us well into the future even to be used in fuel cells,” states Chatterton.

Lars Liebig, Managing Director, Uniper Energy DMCC believes all fuels which require a lot of CAPEX and new investments will always become a challenge; and suggests for the shipping industry to start with a drop-in fuel. 

“So, let’s start with a drop-in fuel. The price point for the biofuel blend we are offering now in Fujairah together with Gary [Neutral Fuels Company] is a 10% reduction in CO2 emissions for roughly 15% more on the total price,” adds Lars Liebig, Managing Director, Uniper Energy DMCC.

“That’s not bad. Basically everybody can immediately cut 10% of emissions by paying 15% more. Additionally, the ultimate price point for each of the goods delivered is very minimal. So, we can achieve a lot immediately if we start. So I think that’s what we need to focus on, and then the rest will come gradually, I’m sure.”

Saunak Rai, General Manager, FueLNG, had some concluding remarks to contribute.

“The way I see it, the future fuel scape is not one fuel or two fuels, it’s a fuel mix, and all of the fuels we discussed today have a special role to play,” he says.

“Somewhere LNG makes sense because of its global availability or because of the price or because of its safety standards. 

“Some places will utilise hydrogen, others ammonia or methanol, and together, this will make up the global fuel mix. Each ship, each trade, each part of the world would have a solution and the ratios of this fuel mix would be different.”

Photo credit: FUJCON 2021
Published: 5 April, 2021

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