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GCMD and NYK to launch six-month trial of continuous bio bunker fuels use on vessel

Project will trial continuous use of a biofuels blend comprising of 24% FAME and VLSFO onboard a short-sea vehicle carrier that will call at multiple ports to address concerns of long-term use of biofuels.




GCMD and NYK to launch six-month trial of continuous bio bunker fuels use on vessel

The Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) on Thursday (9 May) said it has teamed up with NYK Line to launch Project LOTUS, which stands for long-term impact of continuous use of biofuels on vessel operations. 

This six-month project will trial the continuous use of a biofuels blend, comprising of 24% Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME) and very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO), onboard a short-sea vehicle carrier that will call at multiple ports. 

The use of a vessel plying short-sea routes will allow regular access to fuels stored onboard for sampling and testing during frequent port calls.

FAME, a readily available biofuel derived from second-generation feedstocks, like used cooking oil and palm oil mill effluent, presents a promising fuel alternative for immediate GHG emissions reduction in the shipping industry. 

“While its compatibility with existing engines and bunkering infrastructure makes it an attractive ‘drop-in’ green fuel, concerns about the impact of its extended use on vessel operations remain,” GCMD said in a statement. 

GCMD and NYK to launch six-month trial of continuous bio bunker fuels use on vessel

Unlike conventional marine fuels, one of the challenges with FAME is that it can be more susceptible to chemical degradation and microbial growth, the by-products of which can corrode shipboard engine systems and/ or clog fuel delivery systems.

As a preventative measure, engine Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and classification societies have thus recommended increasing the frequency of maintenance when using biofuels and its blends compared to using conventional marine fuels.

Despite a promising surge in biofuel bunkering volumes at key hubs, like Singapore and Rotterdam, with sales rising from negligible levels in 2020 to 1 million MT in 2023, their use still only represents 1.7% of total bunker sales at these hubs. With stricter regulations in force, the use of biofuels in shipping is likely to rise significantly in the coming years. 

“To fully understand the opportunity FAME presents to the shipping sector, a thorough investigation of the impact on its long-term use and an evaluation of the total cost of adoption is critical,” GCMD added. 

The past decade has seen trials of various biofuels onboard vessels; these have primarily focused on their combustion characteristics and the extent of emissions abatement. Data on the impact of long-term and continuous use of biofuels on engine performance and fuel delivery system operations remain limited.

Project LOTUS aims to address this knowledge gap by establishing industry guidelines for monitoring engine and equipment performance when using biofuels. This pilot will also evaluate the total cost of ownership of using biofuels, covering the cost of fuel and additional maintenance costs associated with its use. Additionally, it will identify potential challenges, e.g., corrosion of engine systems and valve failures, related to continuous biofuels use, and recommend mitigation strategies.

The quantitative findings from Project LOTUS offer an opportunity to contribute complementary real-world data to the upcoming revision of ISO 8217:2024, which includes specification of standards for a wider range of FAME-based blends up to B100.

Further, these learnings will be crucial for shipowners and operators who are considering biofuels use to meet vessel compliance with regulations, like the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) and the FuelEU Maritime Standards.

Scope of the pilot and industry participation

Project LOTUS will be conducted with the appointed vessel under commercial operations to capture real-world challenges and ensure that the learnings are extensible to the industry. The pilot will involve comprehensive tracking of fuel quality and lubricant efficacy, as well as monitoring engine and fuel delivery system performance over the course of the trial.

Leveraging its experience from three successful supply chain trials with four vessels for its drop-in green fuel assurance framework, GCMD will lead Project LOTUS in collaboration with industry partners. NYK Line, a co-sponsor, will contribute the vessel and manage fuel procurement. VPS will handle fuel and lube oil analyses and Gard will support GCMD as an insurance and risk assessment consultant on the project.

Professor Lynn Loo, CEO of GCMD, said, “Project LOTUS will provide valuable insights into how extended biofuels use affect engine performance and shipboard operations. This knowledge will empower stakeholders across the ecosystem, from shipowners and charterers to biofuels producers and regulators – to make more informed business and policy decisions. Ultimately, this pilot will lead to greater confidence for biofuels use at scale, accelerating progress towards decarbonising the maritime industry.”

Nobuhiro Kashima, Senior Managing Executive Office of NYK Line, said, “We released the “NYK Group Decarbonization Story” in November 2023, declaring a new target to reduce the NYK Group’s GHG emissions by 45% from the fiscal 2021 level by fiscal 2030. To achieve this goal, from fiscal 2024 we started conducting full-scale trials of the long-term use of biofuels in navigating existing heavy oil-powered vessels. We are delighted to launch Project LOTUS together with reliable partners, like GCMD. We believe the knowledge gained through this project will help us achieve our GHG reduction targets and eventually contribute to the decarbonisation of the maritime industry.”


Photo credit: Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation
Published: 9 May 2024

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Bunker Fuel

Integr8 report: Two-thirds of residual bunker fuels still sold with pre-2017 ISO specs

New ISO 8217 standards present a rare opportunity to do away with industry’s reliance on obsolete fuel specifications but noted that it will be no easy task as majority of fuels are still sold with pre-2017 specifications.





Integr8 report: Two-thirds of residual bunker fuels still sold with pre-2017 ISO specs

Integr8 Fuels, the bunker trading and brokerage arm of Navig8, on Tuesday (11 June) announced the release of its Bunker Quality Trends Report Q1 2024, which revealed several issues including the impact of the Red Sea closure on VLSFO compliance and emerging bunker quality trends.

In the latest report, bunker quality and claims manager Chris Turner advised shipowners and bunker buyers on how they can improve their buying processes and performance. 

Analysing data from over 130 million metric tonnes of deliveries to assess fuel quality trends and challenges from region-to-region, Turner revealed the most pressing quality issues the industry is up against. 

These include:

  • Red Sea closure affecting VLSFO compliance for vessels rerouting around Africa
  • Global VLSFO compliance suffers as suppliers stretch barges to cash in on rising HSFO
  • demand, driven by increasing scrubber numbers
  • Two-thirds of fuels are still sold with obsolete (pre-2017) specifications. Can the new ISO specs finally shake up old school practices?
  • Profit margin-motivated blenders push more HSFOs over ISO limits
  • VLSFO sulphur off specs worsening in the ARA and partly driven by high- to low sulphur barge switching

Red Sea closure impact on VLSFO compliance

Geopolitical events often have a knock-on effect on fuel quality, sometimes relating to blending economics, and occasionally, also relating to the impact on barge infrastructure because of rapidly changing demand.

Since October 2023, many more vessels have been rerouting around Africa rather than travelling via the Red Sea, resulting in a significant increase in volume of HSFO demand, with a ripple effect stretching as far as Barcelona. During the same period, there has been a 30% increase in VLSFO sulphur off specification incidents in ports along the African coast and nearby Spain, which upon closer inspection, show a root cause of affected barges also carrying HSFO.

Integr8 Fuels’ analysis has identified suppliers running a similar model who are unaffected - this likely due to their infrastructure allowing double valve segregation and separate manifolds onboard the barge preventing any cross-over contamination, and/or proper management of grade changeover.

The increase in HSFO demand is also putting pressure on supply models.

Another factor is the significant increase in the number of vessels equipped with scrubbers, resulting in a far higher demand for HSFO than in recent years with data available to Integr8 suggesting approximately 100 million MT of deadweight tonnage being either delivered or retrofitted with scrubbers in 2023. This combined with the price spread which remains very appealing, and scrubber assets travelling further at higher speeds, continues to support the demand going forwards.

Suppliers of course want to meet this increased demand and in doing so place transitional temporary pressure on existing assets or could be forced into a sea change in strategy, both of which may result in the practice of storing both HSFOs and VLSFOs onboard the asset.

This is made apparent by increased sulphur off specification occurrences with the root cause being the switching of grades by certain suppliers, in ports including but not limited to Barcelona, Callao and Hong Kong.

New ISO specs

The International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) recently launched ISO 8217:2024 standards present a rare opportunity to do away with the industry’s reliance on obsolete fuel specifications. This is no easy task as research from Integr8 shows that two-thirds of residual bunker fuels and three-quarters of distillate bunker fuels are still sold with pre-2017 specifications.

ISO 8217:2024 introduces several important amendments. Notably, it sets minimum viscosity limits across all residual grades, addressing handling issues with low-viscosity fuels. It also identifies specific chemical species linked to operational problems, such as organic chlorides, and incorporates international testing standards. The new specification prepares the industry for the growing use of biofuel blends by establishing new testing parameters for these fuels, such as FAME content and net heat of combustion.

There are however missed opportunities, namely related to de-minimis levels of organic chlorides and cold flow properties.

Suppliers may again attempt to avoid the small print on organic chlorides as they have previously done with Clause 5, which could possibly have been better addressed by incorporating a maximum limit in tables. Cold flow properties must only be reported, not guaranteed, leaving the potential need for buyers to seek additional guarantees outside ISO 8217:2024. This remains a concern as certificates of quality (where such values are reported) often lack reliability when provided at a distant time from delivery.

Despite these challenges, the ISO 8217:2024 specification represents a substantial step forward, providing the necessary framework to address many current fuel quality issues. The uptake of the 2024 specification will depend significantly on ship owners demanding these new standards be incorporated into charterparty agreements. By doing so, owners can drive the transition from outdated specifications to the latest version, paving the way for a more reliable and efficient future in marine fuel standards.

Global HSFO off specs

Global HSFO quality has worsened in the past six months. The number of off-specification HSFO samples has gone up from 3% to 3.4%, and this is significantly higher than for VLSFO (2.1%) and MGO (2.8%).

Profit-motivated blending can go some way to explain the deteriorating HSFO trend. Almost half of HSFO off specs have been blending-related and come as a result of blending close to HSFOs density and viscosity limits, Turner argues. Water content is the second most likely usual off spec suspect and has made up around a third of HSFO off specs.

But fortunately, neither density, viscosity nor most of the water off specs qualify as so-called “critical” or “high risk” off specs. They are not likely to lead to serious engine trouble or debunkerings, which can cost shipowners dearly. These off specs are typically economically motivated. Density and viscosity off specs are more common for HSFO than for VLSFO and LSMGO because they are the blending targets for HSFO, and blenders have an incentive to blend as close to those limits as possible to save money.

VLSFO sulphur off specs

Sulphur is the biggest off spec concern for VLSFO. Again, this has to do with blending as the 0.50% sulphur limit is the target that blenders have their eyes on. Blending too far from the limit can eat into your profit margins, and we have seen the average sulphur contents in VLSFOs creep up in both the ARA and Singapore in the past six months.

In Singapore, you were 2.5 times more likely get a VLSFO stem with a sulphur content of 0.51-0.53% in the past six months as you were getting one in the preceding six-month period. It is evident that blending is being optimised towards the 0.50%.

But while only 0.3% of VLSFOs test off spec for sulphur in Singapore, the ARA has seen 2% of VLSFOs testing off spec. In the ARA, “we regretfully report that we are almost twice as likely to face a sulphur off specification incident now than in the previous reporting period,” Turner wrote.

Note: The full report of Integr8 Fuels’ ‘Bunker Quality Trends Report Q1 2024’ can be downloaded here.

Related: Integr8 Fuels: Off spec issue with MGO equally likely to occur as with HSFO


Photo credit: Integr8 Fuels
Published: 12 June 2024

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Alternative Fuels

Fresh Carriers and Zespri complete first biofuel trial onboard “Kakariki”

Vessel was bunkered with bio bunker fuel in Hong Kong as there is none available in New Zealand; further biofuel trials between FCC and Zespri are planned using other FCC vessels.





Fresh Carriers and Zespri complete first biofuel trial onboard “Kakariki”

New Zealand's largest horticultural exporter Zespri on Tuesday (11 June) said one of its international shipping partners, Fresh Carriers Co Ltd (FCC), has successfully completed a trial using biofuel in a charter vessel operating between Hong Kong and New Zealand, according to Zespri on Tuesday (11 June).

The purpose of the trial was to test the performance of the ship’s engines when burning biofuel.

The cargo ship Kakariki bunkered the biofuel in Hong Kong at the end of last month before starting its voyage south, arriving at the Port of Tauranga at the weekend. 

The vessel was powered by a blend of biofuel which is made from used cooking oil. The Kakariki bunkered the biofuel in Hong Kong because there is none available in New Zealand - if and when biofuel does become available in New Zealand it will present more opportunities for Zespri’s chartered ships to burn this low-emission fuel.

Zespri Chief Operating Officer Jason Te Brake said the biofuel trial by FCC is a collaborative step forward for the industry as it seeks to decarbonise and future proof through innovative solutions such as low emissions shipping.

“With Zespri having limited ability to directly reduce shipping emissions ourselves, we’re working with key shipping and distribution partners like FCC to increase the efficiency of our shipping and logistics, and make the transition to low emissions fuels.

“The biofuel trial with FCC is an important step forward and has given us both important technical insights, with the Kakariki monitored throughout its journey to make sure the biofuel performed well with no unforeseen technical issues. It’s fantastic to see it dock successfully in Tauranga.”

FCC Director Toshiyuki Koga said FCC was proud to see the Kakariki, which is the company’s first vessel to trial biofuel, arrive safely in Tauranga.

“We have been in discussions with Zespri for a number of months about carrying out this trial and are now looking forward to further biofuel trials using other FCC vessels. We are also considering a northbound trial taking Zespri Kiwifruit to market this season.

“Biofuel supply chains are complex and there is still work to be done to ensure stable supply, however this trial is a first step towards decarbonisation with Zespri.”

Jason Te Brake added: “New Zealand’s place at the bottom of the South Pacific Ocean means accessing low emissions fuel options is a challenge, and we are actively seeking partners to shore up access to more sustainable fuels to meet our ambitious targets and the expectations of our customers and consumers.

“It’s been positive working with our long term partner FCC recognising the importance of decarbonising and future proofing the industry. This trial is a step forward and we’re pleased to be on the path to introducing low emissions fuels to carry Zespri Kiwifruit to our markets around the world in the future.”


Photo credit: Zespri
Published: 12 June 2024

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Global Energy Trading successfully conducts first ever B100 biofuel bunkering in Singapore

Bunker tanker “MT MAPLE” — owned Global Energy Group— delivered about 290 metric tonnes of B100 bio bunker fuel, to bulk carrier “NORD TAURUS”; eBDN was also issued for the delivery.





Bunker tanker “MT MAPLE” owned Global Energy Group

Global Energy Trading Pte Ltd (GET), a Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) licensed bunker supplier, on Friday (7 June) announced it successfully conducted the first ever B100 bunker supply in Singapore.

About 290 metric tonnes (mt) of B100 biofuel, composed of 100% UCOME, was delivered to bulk carrier NORD TAURUS by MT MAPLE, an IMO Type II chemical bunker tanker.

The MAPLE is owned by Global Energy Group and operated by MPA licensed bunker craft operator Stellar Shipmanagement Pte Ltd.

The operation was completed with its partner Mitsui & Co. Energy Trading Singapore Pte Ltd (METS) and global shipping company NORDEN.

Marine biofuel offers a promising eco-friendly fuel solution, capable of cutting CO 2 emissions by 80-90% on a well-to-wake basis, all without requiring any modifications to existing engine infrastructure, according to GET.

GET said the significant achievement also involved the first delivery of B100 using Mass Flow Meter (MFM).

“Prior to the delivery, the MFM was approved by MPA after it met all the testing requirements of the SS 648 bunkering standards using B100 bunker fuel,” the firm said.

Additionally, an Electronic Bunker Delivery Note (eBDN) was also satisfactorily issued for the delivery and relevant supply information was also transmitted to the MPA.

“Global Energy reaffirms its dedication to providing top-notch bunkering services, expanding its offerings beyond traditional marine fuels to include a comprehensive range of Biofuels and Methanol solutions,” the firm added.

“We hope to be part of our partners journey as they navigate towards a low-carbon future.”

Related: DS Norden completes first B100 biofuel bunkering in Singapore
Related: Singapore: Global Energy celebrates first methanol marine fuel delivery with IMO type II bunker tanker
Related: Global Energy Trading selects Bunkerchain e-BDN solution in Singapore


Photo credit: Global Energy Trading
Published: 11 June, 2024

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