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GCMD-led consortium to establish supply chain of green marine fuels

With 18 industry partners including BHP Singapore, this pilot will help to shape national and international standards of biofuels bunkering, amongst others.

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The Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) on Tuesday (26 July) said it is leading a consortium of 18 industry partners to launch a drop-in biofuels pilot project with a combined contribution of USD 18 million in cash and in-kind to establish an assurance framework for ensuring the supply chain integrity of current and future green marine fuels, bringing genuine benefits to end-users and the climate.

On the launch of this pilot project Professor Lynn Loo, CEO of GCMD, said: “GCMD is leading this route-based pilot to help align stakeholders in the supply chain for the adoption of biofuels. By facilitating and creating an optimised drop-in green fuels supply chain, this pilot will help to shape national and international standards of biofuels bunkering and lower the barrier for their wider adoption to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from a lifecycle perspective. In curating and executing this first-of-its-kind drop-in biofuels pilot, GCMD is positioned to address stakeholder pain points in the complexities of the supply chain of green marine fuels in a meaningful way.”

Addressing the gap for the maritime industry

To meet the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) 2030 and 2050 decarbonisation targets, shipowners as well as cargo owners and charterers are exploring the purchase and use of green bunker fuels. Biofuels can be a near-term measure to reduce GHG emissions as they are available today, and they can be deployed in the same way as marine fuels with minimal changes to the existing distribution infrastructure, shipboard technologies, and operational norms of ships. However, there is no industry-wide assurance framework that addresses concerns on the quantity, quality and GHG emissions abatement of biofuels, nor one that safeguards their premium and value. 

To address this gap, the GCMD-led pilot aims to establish an assurance framework that ensures supply chain transparency of drop-in biofuels, whose applicability can be extended to future drop-in fuels, such as bio-LNG, biomethanol and green ammonia, when they become available in meaningful quantities.

Recent IMO decisions to eliminate the need to apply for waivers for using fuel blends with up to 30% biofuels (B30) for propulsion, and to allow the use of B30 in accordance with MARPOL Annex VI, have lowered regulatory hurdles for adopting biofuels. To this end, the assurance framework that will be the outcome of this pilot will increase stakeholder confidence in the full value of the premium paid for such green fuels, and further lower the barrier to wider adoption of biofuels in the maritime industry by addressing concerns on the integrity of the biofuels supply chain.

The vessels in this pilot are all equipped with MAN ES’s two-stroke engines. In response to participating in this pilot, Bjarne Foldager, Senior Vice President and head of Two Stroke Business, said: “This is a very important initiative by GCMD, and we are honoured to contribute. At MAN Energy Solutions we believe several solutions are required to decarbonise shipping, however all solutions needs to be verified and their scalability tested. This is best done in partnerships aligning the various actors in projects like this where we can share knowledge and build transition strategies together.”

Supporting the green corridors framework

GCMD is undertaking a bottom-up approach by convening like-minded partners across the maritime industry to participate in this pilot. Altogether, the ship owners, charterers and operators participating in this pilot project represent approximately 2,300 vessels across the container, tanker and bulker segments, and are responsible for transporting 8.4 million TEUs or 80.6 million DWT globally. With 12 vessels bunkering at three ports across three continents, the learnings from these route-based pilots will support the green corridors framework that was put forth by the Clydebank Declaration at COP26 in October 2021, of which 24 states are signatories including Singapore, the Netherlands and the US where bunkering ports for this pilot project reside.

Targeting the complex supply chain of green fuels

A first-of-its-kind in extent and complexity, the pilot aims to optimise the entire supply chain of bunker fuels by building on the learnings of past shipboard trials involving biofuels. Designed through the lens of the shipowner, piloting will start with fuel blends involving existing biofuels, such as hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO) and fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) blended with either very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO), high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO) or marine gas oil (MGO) in blends up to 30% biofuels (B30).

“There are so many good elements in this pilot,” said Unni Einemo, Director of the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA)

“A variety of biofuels and biofuel blends have already been successfully tested, but this comprehensive pilot can help address remaining uncertainties about how these fuels work in practice by getting extensive enduser operational experiences with products involving FAME and HVO, and hopefully also crude algae oil.”

Using BunkerTrace’s digital and synthetic DNA tracing products to track marine fuels from production to vessel propulsion, the pilot will validate the authenticity of sustainable biofuels through molecular verification tests conducted on fuel samples that are collected at numerous identified points along the supply chain. Hence, the pilot will address traceability of drop-in biofuels from production, distribution, transportation, storage, and bunkering to shipboard application, providing end-to-end supply chain transparency.

Einemo continued: “The tracing element in this pilot is also really exciting. Biofuels have the potential to help the existing fleet meet IMO’s GHG reduction targets by taking lifecycle emissions into account, but one of the challenges will be certification of product origin as the sustainability of biofuels can vary significantly depending on production pathways. Biofuels can be blends coming from feedstock with different sustainability profiles, so it will be interesting to see if the DNA tracing will show mainly single-source origin products or biofuels of multiple origins. This could give us some really useful insights into the complexities of documenting the full supply chain of fuels, which will become increasingly important.”

Testing laboratories will play a crucial role in evaluating the biofuels and biofuel blends. Strategically located in Singapore, the world’s largest bunkering hub and second largest container port, GCMD also participates in the work of the Singapore Standards Council’s Chemical Standards Committee (CSC) in developing national standards for the bunkering industry. 

On this GCMD pilot, Capt. Rahul Choudhuri, Chairman of the CSC’s Technical Committee for Bunkering (Ambient Liquid Fuels), said: “GCMD’s project scope involves a detailed quality assessment of biofuels, including ascertaining their shelf life and long-term stability. As such, the involvement of global laboratory services companies in this project will provide such information that will strengthen the efforts of the Technical Committee’s Working Group on Marine Fuel Specifications and contribute to developing acceptable industry standards and practices for the use of biofuels in Singapore and eventually elsewhere.”

Adding to the pilot’s complexity is coordinating the sailing schedules of participating vessels. The aggregation of demand for biofuels at ports will result in cost savings for shipowners and fuel purchases through optimised use of land-side storage facilities and bunkering vessels and facilitate assessments of GHG emissions abatement on a well-to-wake basis of individual vessels and across fleets. Furthermore, testing these fuel blends across the container, tanker and bulker segments travelling on fixed and tramp routes and bunkering at the ports of Singapore, Rotterdam, and Houston under business-as-usual conditions will demonstrate the compatibility and stability of these biofuels in actual operating environments, thereby strengthening the overall robustness of the assurance framework.

Calling for crude algae oil supply

In an effort to further accelerate biofuels adoption as a near-term measure to reduce GHG emissions, GCMD will be leveraging this project to be the first in trialling and assessing the use of crude algae oil (CAO) as a marine fuel. CAO is a third-generation biofuel that promises substantially reduced carbon footprint, but unlike HVO and FAME, its utility has not been tested nor its supply chain established. For this part of the pilot, GCMD has assembled fuel purchasers who are committed to trialling CAO, and is inviting CAO producers with existing commercial production capacities to participate by reaching out to [email protected] by 22 August. GCMD will link up CAO fuel producers with pre-identified fuel suppliers to test and provide CAO for this pilot on a commercial basis.

In the run-up to the launch of this pilot project, GCMD is finalising the agreement details with the 18 project partners. The pilot will commence on 1 August 2022, and is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete. 

GCMD industry partners for this project are:

  • Anglo American
  • Astomos Energy Corporation
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • BHP Singapore Pte Limited
  • BunkerTrace Limited
  • Chevron Corporation
  • CMA CGM S.A.
  • Eastern Pacific Shipping Pte. Ltd.
  • Hapag-Lloyd AG
  • MAN Energy Solutions SE
  • Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha
  • Ocean Network Express Pte. Ltd.
  • Pacific International Lines (Pte) Ltd.
  • Saybolt (Singapore) Pte Ltd
  • Stena Bulk AB
  • Swire Bulk Pte. Ltd.
  • VG (Viswa Group)
  • VPS

 

Photo credit: Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation
Published: 26 July, 2022

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Alternative Fuels

IUMI: How can liability and compensation regimes adapt to alternative bunker fuels and cargoes?

Existing international liability and compensation regimes do not fully cater to the changes that the use of alternative marine fuels will bring.

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Dangerous cargo

By Tim Howse, Member of the IUMI Legal & Liability Committee and Vice President, Head of Industry Liaison, Gard (UK) Limited

The world economy is transitioning, with industries across the board seeking to reduce their carbon footprint and embrace more sustainable practices. As part of this, there is a huge effort within our industry to look to decarbonise, using alternative fuels such as biofuel, LNG, LPG, ammonia, methanol, and hydrogen.

Until now there has been much focus on carbon emissions and operational risks associated with the use of alternative fuels. This includes increased explosivity, flammability, and corrosivity. An ammonia leak causing an explosion in port could result in personal injuries, not to mention property damage, air, and sea pollution. In addition, alternative fuels may not be compatible with existing onboard systems, increasing the risk of breakdowns and fuel loss resulting in pollution. Apart from these safety concerns, which particularly concern crew, air pollution and other environmental impacts need to be addressed.

However, the green transition also presents us with a separate regulatory challenge, which has received less attention so far. So, whilst carbon emissions and safety concerns are rightly on top of the agenda now, the industry also needs to prioritise the potential barriers in the legal and regulatory frameworks which will come sharply into focus if there is an accident.

If anything, historic maritime disasters like the Torrey Canyon spill in 1967, have taught us that we should look at liability and compensation regimes early and with a degree of realism to ensure society is not caught off-guard. With our combined experience, this is perhaps where the insurance industry can really contribute to the transition.

Currently, existing international liability and compensation regimes do not fully cater to the changes that the use of alternative fuels will bring. For example, an ammonia fuel spill would not fall under the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (Bunkers Convention), potentially resulting in a non-uniform approach to jurisdiction and liability. Similarly, an ammonia cargo incident would not fall under the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC). Uncertainties may also exist in the carriage of CO2 as part of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects, which may be treated as a pollutant, with corresponding penalties or fines.

A multitude of questions will arise depending on what happens, where it happens, and the values involved, many of which may end up as barriers for would be claimants. How will such claims be regulated, will there be scope for limitation of liability, and would there be a right of direct action against the insurers? In the absence of a uniform international liability, compensation and limitation framework, shipowners, managers, charterers, individual crew, and the insurers may be at the mercy of local actions. Increased concerns about seafarer criminalisation (even where international conventions exist, ‘wrongful’ criminalisation does still occur) may emerge, creating another disincentive to go to sea.

When being carried as a cargo, the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea (HNS), which is not yet in force, may resolve some of these issues for alternative fuels and CO2. However, until HNS comes into force, there will be no international uniformity to liability and compensation for the carriage of alternative fuels and CO2 as cargoes. This creates uncertainties for potential victims and their insurers, who may face increased risks and costs, due to the potential inability of existing regulations to provide protections.

The situation is even less clear in the case of bunkers. The rules for using alternative fuels as bunkers might require a separate protocol to HNS, a protocol to the Bunkers Convention, or a whole new convention specifically for alternative fuels.  Relevant considerations for the appropriate legislative vehicle include states’ preparedness to reopen the Bunkers Convention, the ability to conclude a protocol to HNS before it comes into force, and whether a multi-tier fund structure is needed for alternative fuels as bunkers (perhaps unnecessary because bunkers are usually carried in smaller quantities compared to cargoes).

Until then, what we are left with are the existing international protective funds, designed to respond at the highest levels to pollution claims resulting from an oil spill, without any similar mechanism in place to respond to a spill of alternative fuels, which are themselves so central to a green transition. Somewhat perversely, victims of accidents involving an oil spill may therefore enjoy better protections than victims of an alternative fuels spill.

In summary, while the use of alternative fuels will no doubt help to reduce the industry's carbon footprint, there are safety and practical hurdles to overcome. Stakeholders must also come together to find solutions to complex - and urgent, in relative terms - legal and regulatory challenges.

 

Photo credit: Manifold Times
Source:  International Union of Marine Insurance
Published: 13 June 2024

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Ammonia

Expert discusses technical considerations of using ammonia as marine fuel

Ammonia as bunker fuel poses significant safety challenges due to its toxicity and flammability, says Senior Marine Surveyor Muammer Akturk.

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Technical considerations of ammonia as marine fuel

Muammer Akturk, a Senior Marine Surveyor specialising in alternative bunker fuels, on Monday (10 June) published an article on technical considerations of using ammonia as a marine fuel in his Alternative Marine Fuels Newsletter.

The article dives into the use of ammonia as a marine fuel, focusing on the safety and technical considerations necessary for its implementation.

Ammonia is recognised for its potential as a zero-carbon fuel, making it an attractive option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the shipping industry. However, it poses significant safety challenges due to its toxicity and flammability.

Key points discussed include:

  1. Safety Measures: The importance of stringent design and operational safety measures to prevent ammonia releases and mitigate risks during both normal and emergency conditions is emphasized. This includes the need for gas dispersion analyses and the use of safety systems like gas detectors and alarms
  2. Regulatory Framework: The article reviews the latest regulations and guidelines developed to ensure the safe use of ammonia as a marine fuel. This includes the IACS Unified Requirement H1, which provides a framework for controlling ammonia releases on vessels
  3. Engineering Considerations: Technical aspects such as fuel storage, handling systems, and the role of risk assessments in identifying potential hazards and implementing preventive measures are detailed
  4. Human Factors: The article also considers the human factors approach to safety, emphasizing training and the importance of designing systems that account for human errorOverall, the article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the challenges and solutions associated with using ammonia as a marine fuel, highlighting the importance of safety and regulatory compliance in its adoption.

Editor’s note: The full article can be found at the link here.

 

Published: 13 June 2024

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Methanol

Green Marine Fuels Trading, Vopak team up on green methanol port storage facilities

Green Marine Fuels revealed a strategic collaboration with Vopak to secure necessary port storage to accommodate green methanol supply in Shanghai, Tianjin and later in Singapore.

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Green Marine Fuels Trading, Vopak team up on green methanol port storage facilities

Green Marine Fuels Trading on Tuesday (11 June) announced a strategic collaboration with Royal Vopak Terminals in the key ports of Shanghai Caojing and Tianjin Lingang, China. 

The firm said the milestone agreement marked the next phase of methanol supply chain infrastructure expansion for Green Marine Fuels Trading, securing necessary port storage capacity to accommodate projected supply of green methanol from Chinese business partners.  

Green Marine will be undertaking a similar cooperation plan with Vopak Singapore as well. 

Gavin McGrath, Director at Green Marine, said: “This is an important milestone in the evolution of Green Marine Fuels Trading and further underscores our preparedness to supply green methanol to the imminent green transition within the shipping industry.” 

“Our leadership in the global methanol marine fuel sector uniquely positions us to bridge the gap between methanol producers and buyers, with storage and supply infrastructure being a crucial link in the chain.”

“We eagerly anticipate leveraging our expertise in these domains to enrich the Shanghai and Tianjin green port and marine fuel ecosystems.”

Manifold Times previously reported Vopak signing a strategic cooperation agreement with the Vice Mayor of Tianjin delegation to support the repurposing of Vopak Tianjin's infrastructure for new energies, including green methanol, sustainable aviation fuel, and potentially ammonia and liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHC).

Vopak said Tianjin Port Group will work closely with Vopak to develop a green methanol bunkering service solution.

Related: Tianjin Port Group and Vopak partner to develop green methanol bunkering service

 

Photo credit: Green Marine Group
Published: 12 June 2024

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