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Glander International Bunkering: Who will drive future bunker fuels demand – customer or supplier?

Race is now on for producers and consumers to work in tandem to develop future bunker markets and those that move fastest to guarantee supply and demand for the new fuels will reap the largest rewards.

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Global bunker trading firm Glander International Bunkering, which recently received ISCC EU and ISCC Plus certificates for its biofuel operations in Norway and Geneva offices, discusses the key question hanging over the maritime industry on what drivers are needed for a viable market in the various alternative bunker fuels to emerge at ports around the world:

The pace of change in the bunker industry is accelerating rapidly.

Where in the past, residual fuel oil remained the dominant bunker grade for decades, with only relatively minor adjustments to its viscosity and sulfur content, a wide range of new fuels is now emerging.

With the IMO now having announced that shipping’s GHG emissions will be reduced to net zero by about 2050, little doubt remains over whether these new fuels will come to overtake fossil bunkers in time.

Shipowners that find their solution to the decarbonisation puzzle, and implement their strategy early, will reap the rewards in the years to come.

But the key question hanging over the industry is, what drivers are needed for a viable market in the various alternative fuels to emerge at ports around the world?

Biofuels

The emergence of a biofuel bunker market will be – and to some extent has already been – an easier prospect than for other alternatives.

As a drop-in replacement for conventional bunker fuels, biofuel blends have significant advantages. 

Because they can run in today’s engines with only minor adjustments, they need little in the way of investment by either the supplier or customer; new ships and new delivery infrastructure are not needed.

When taking into account the full lifecycle of these fuels, they can deliver major GHG emission savings compared to fossil fuels, while remaining largely familiar in their chemical properties and quality considerations.

Shipowners have already been carrying out trials of biofuel blends at locations around the world to test their performance in marine engines, and little in the way of objections have emerged so far.

With demand already largely in place, the key challenge for this market is the development of supply. 

Therefore, biofuel suppliers will play a pivotal role in ensuring that biofuel blends become a widely adopted alternative fuel.

Suppliers for the maritime industry must understand the variety and suitability of feedstocks, their 

availability and compliance with IMO, EU and other regulations, and to develop competitive supply chains and the last-mile delivery of these low-carbon fuels to the relevant ports.

LNG

The history of LNG’s use as a marine fuel provides a clear picture of how suppliers and their customers working together can develop an alternative fuel’s supply chain and bring its market to maturity.

Gas-powered ships have been in operation for several decades now, but it has only been over the past ten years or so that LNG has emerged as a prominent alternative bunker fuel.

Ten years ago, presentations at marine fuel conferences on the advent of LNG bunkering invariably brought up the ‘chicken and egg problem’: the question of which should come first, demand for this alternative fuel or supply.

The issue at question was whether shipowners would consider purchasing gas-fuelled vessels before suppliers set in place LNG bunker delivery infrastructure, and vice-versa.

In the end, the chicken and egg made a simultaneous appearance. The biggest single event driving the emergence of the LNG bunker market was the announcement from French container line CMA CGM and energy producer Total that they would work together to develop both supply and demand.

In early 2017, the two French firms started to sign multi-year deals for LNG bunker supply, at the same time as CMA CGM was starting to make large gas-powered ship orders. The size of the arrangement was large enough to make it worth Total building a delivery vessel even if it would only end up serving CMA CGM’S boxships.

For this market, the next stage will be to develop similar deals for bio- and synthetic LNG. The ships running on and delivering fossil LNG today will be able to use these fuels already, but new production facilities will be needed.

Methanol and Ammonia

If supply chains are established effectively, green methanol and ammonia have great potential. These fuels require production facilities, tankers to transport them, delivery infrastructure and new ships capable of burning them.

An approach similar to that taken with LNG will be needed: producers and consumers need to make deals guaranteeing both supply and demand at around the same time.

Methanol is further along this path than ammonia. As it remains liquid at ambient temperature and pressure, existing storage facilities and delivery vessels require much lower retrofit costs and time to be prepared to carry methanol.

Building a dual-fuelled vessel capable of burning both methanol and conventional bunkers, rather than LNG or ammonia, should also be cheaper.

The approach of buyers collaborating with sellers to develop the market is already bearing fruit for methanol as a marine fuel, with container shipping company AP Moller-Maersk signing supply deals with a wide range of producers at the same time as ordering ships capable of methanol propulsion. Since these deals were announced, several more shipping companies have felt the confidence to order methanol-fuelled tonnage, and data from classification society DNV show methanol-fuelled ship orders have outnumbered those of gas-powered tonnage for several months over the past year.

The ammonia bunker market is at an earlier stage, with much more research and development work into how to handle ammonia’s toxicity needed first. Here, an intervention from local regulators and port authorities may be needed before the market can take off: a declaration from an authority the size of Singapore’s MPA that ammonia bunkering can be safely carried out in the city-state’s waters would do much to kick-start this market’s development.

But ammonia remains widely assumed to become one of the largest marine energy carriers towards the middle of this century, despite its toxicity and the higher infrastructure costs associated with its chemical properties; the lack of carbon in its molecule remains highly attractive, a property not shared by any of the other alternative fuel options.

Conclusion

Ultimately, it’s not going to be the chicken or the egg that comes first with the more expensive alternative bunker fuel markets: the regulations precede everything.

With the IMO’s 2050 net zero target and the EU’s emissions trading system and FuelEU Maritime regulation now adopted, the shipping industry has been given clear instructions to extricate itself from fossil fuel consumption.

The race is now on for producers and consumers to work in tandem to develop the bunker markets of the future. Those that move fastest to guarantee supply and demand for the new fuels will reap the largest rewards.

 

Photo credit: Glander International Bunkering
Published: 6 September, 2023

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Poland: ORLEN to strengthen position in bunker fuels sector with new oil terminal

With the terminal’s commissioning, the company plans to introduce a bunkering vessel to service the Tri-City ports with conventional marine fuels and biofuels.

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ORLEN oil terminals

Polish multinational oil refiner ORLEN Group on Wednesday (12 June) said it is solidifying its presence in the marine fuels market with the construction of a new oil terminal that is scheduled for completion by the second half of 2025.

Construction of the Martwa Wisła terminal, located on the Martwa Wisła river, has already exceeded 70%.

The Martwa Wisła terminal will enhance the logistics capabilities of the Gdańsk refinery, allowing for the transshipment of approximately 2 million tonnes of fuel products annually.

The first four loading arms have already arrived at the construction site and the remaining four loading arms are slated for delivery by the end of June. The devices, with a throughput capacity of up to 500m³/h, will be used at transshipment points to load tankers.

With the terminal's commissioning, the company plans to introduce a bunkering vessel to service the Tri-City ports (Gdańsk, Gdynia, Sopot) with conventional fuels and biofuels.

For over 20 years, the Group has been supplying quality marine fuels to all Polish seaports. Its refinery product portfolio encompasses a wide range of fuels that guarantee quality and strict compliance with regulations, including MGO (DMA 0.1%S), ULSFO (RMD80 0.1% S) and LNG, which will in the near future be complemented with ‘green’ alternatives.

All marine fuels offered by ORLEN comply with the international ISO 8217:2017 standard and meet the requirements of the MARPOL Convention.

 

Photo credit: ORLEN Group
Published: 14 June 2024

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Australia: Crew of bunker tanker “Champion 63” to strike following employer’s refusal to negotiate

‘BP has decided they can’t pay industry standards in Brisbane and want to keep their workers’ wages low,’ states MUA spokesman.

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Champion 63

The crew of Champion 63, a 2022-built Australia-registered bunker tanker with home port of Brisbane, is set to go on strike after bargaining for a new enterprise agreement has stalled, stated the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) on Wednesday (12 June).

Members of the Australian Maritime Officers Union, the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers, and MUA voted up protected industrial action on 11 June 2024.

The crews have been trying to formalise their employment conditions with ASP Ship Management since the bunkering operations commenced in February 2023. It took ASP approximately six months to issue the Notice of Employee Representational Rights (NERR) and start bargaining.

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“The crew of the new bunker barge on the Brisbane River and the maritime unions bent over backwards to make this vessel work,” said MUA Assistant Branch Secretary Paul Gallagher.

“Including low wages, excessive hours and a roster that does not allow crew to take leave. 18 months down the track when it comes time for BP to reward their crew and pay industry standards what do they do? They deny them fair wages, a workable roster and threaten their back pay!”

The AMOU filed a bargaining dispute after ASP refused to take their claim for a roster that does not demand that crews work every weekend seriously.

“Having to work every weekend because ASP does not have suitable relief arrangements is unacceptable,” said AMOU Industrial Officer Tracey Ellis.

“Crews have a right to be rostered time off to spend with their family. Waiting for ASP to fix the issue did not work, filing a Bargaining Dispute in the Fair Work Commission did not work, so the crews will take protected industrial action until their concerns are taken seriously.”

The crews onboard the Champion 63 voted up an unlimited number of stoppages of work of between one hour and 48 hours.

Gallagher added that, “the Maritime unions will not tolerate the big multinational fuel barons of this world undermining the Australian maritime wages and conditions of seven local mariners who are trying their best to support our own local shipping and Cruise Ship industry. If your cruise holiday gets delayed it is because, after recording over $40 billion profit in last two years, BP has decided they can’t pay industry standards in Brisbane and want to keep their workers’ wages low.”

 

Photo credit: Maritime Union of Australia
Published: 13 June 2024

 

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Infineum releases Sustainability Report 2023 outlining its sustainability progress

Infineum celebrates 25 years of operations and looks forward to the next 25 years of progress towards its net zero ambition by 2050, says CEO.

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Press release Infineum remains focused on our purpose to become a sustainable world class specialty chemicals company

Infineum, a specialty chemicals company headquartered in the UK, on Thursday (13 June) released its fourth annual Sustainability Report, reinforcing its purpose to create a sustainable future through innovative chemistry.

Aligned with the company’s strategic plan to achieve its vision and purpose, Infineum announces:

Publication of its Sustainability Report 2023 (Sustainability.Infineum.com), which outlines the efforts and progress that the company has achieved through the year, including:

  • Championing of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) throughout the organisation
  • Achievement of 28% of colleagues volunteering, surpassing its 2025 target of 25%
  • Increased share of relevant supplier spends covered by sustainability assessments to 62%

Launch of revamped corporate website (www.Infineum.com) to better represent Infineum as a specialty chemicals company, showcasing Infineum’s existing capabilities, as well as diversification in the new markets

The joint venture, formed in 1999 between Shell and Exxon Mobil, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and recently shared its restructure strategy to two business units, Sustainable Transportation and Energy Applications.

“As Infineum celebrates 25 years of operations and we look forward to the next 25 years of progress towards our net zero ambition by 2050, I am pleased to share our fourth annual sustainability report,” says Infineum CEO Aldo Govi.

“This is a journey and we have made excellent progress, but improvement will not always be linear, especially when set against the backdrop of a challenging external environment, but our purpose of creating a sustainable future through innovative chemistry, continues to drive us forward.

“We remain focused on our vision to become a sustainable world-class specialty chemicals company. Sustainability was at the core of reshaping Infineum to better enable us to contribute to sustainable mobility and the transition to a low-carbon economy.”

 

Photo credit: Infineum
Published: 13 June 2024

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