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Interview: Singfar International aims to be a leading global player in sustainable shipping and bunkering

Singfar embarks on plans to put it in good stride to support Singapore and global road to maritime decarbonisation by 2030/2050, shares Pai Hong Yao, Managing Director of Singfar.




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Singapore-based independent vessel owning, newbuilding management, and chartering firm Singfar International Pte Ltd (SFI) has plans to become a leading player in sustainable shipping and bunkering in the republic and beyond, learns Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times.

In May 2021, SFI entered into a memorandum of understanding with Lianyungang Shenghua Shipbuilding Co., Ltd (LYGSH), China, for the joint development and construction of a series of 7,000 dwt liquefied natural gas (LNG) propelled dual fuel (DF) bunker tankers.

Ambitions in Sustainability

“The maritime industry is currently undergoing massive disruptions to achieve the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s vision of decarbonisation by 2050,” shares Mr Pai Hong Yao, Managing Director of SFI.

“We believe this impetus and the rapid advancements in maritime technologies will lead to a greater demand for greener and more efficient vessels.”

“At SFI, we strive to build new vessels which not only comply with the latest regulations, but also allow our charterers and buyers to be at the forefront of the sustainability curve.

“As such, we have divested a number of our conventional and older tonnage over the past six months at fairly attractive market valuations. This will allow us to execute our company strategy to build a younger, greener and more efficient fleet.”

According to Pai, SFI’s pipeline of newbuildings, including two IMO Tier-III (USGC approved) scrubber-fitted Suezmaxes and the series of 5+5 LNG DF bunker tankers ordered from LYGSH, demonstrates the company’s commitment to sustainable shipping.

“SFI’s focus on sustainability also aligns well with the Maritime and Port of Singapore (MPA)’s push for the republic to become a leading hub for maritime decarbonisation,” he states.

“We believe our adoption of the latest technologies, coupled with our extensive newbuilding expertise and vessel management, will allow us to contribute meaningfully to Singapore’s maritime sector’s sustainability agenda.”

Commercial Operations

SFI and its subsidiaries, which mainly derive revenue from charter fees, currently own and manage 26 existing crude and product tankers, of which 23 are bunkering tankers. The company has another two Suezmaxes and a conventional bunker tanker in the newbuilding stage, in addition to the 5+5 LNG DF bunker tankers under joint development with LYGSH.

SFI serves a myriad of local and international charterers, ranging from national oil companies, oil majors, to international trading houses. It has further chartered out a number of vessels to various parties on both spot and time charter contracts – creating customer diversification for its business.

“As SFI embarks on our plans to grow both locally and internationally, we need to be mindful of the challenges posed by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy in the short-to-medium term,” opines Pai.

“For the longer-term horizon, the overall health of the Singapore bunker industry will be vital to our growth plans.”

Alternative Fuels Direction

Looking ahead, Pai firmly believes SFI to be possessing the requisite expertise and experience to support the maritime sector’s transition towards a low-carbon future.

“The market is extremely fluid as developments are constantly made in both fuel sources and engine technologies,” he notes.

“Our core focus will be on supporting the transition to lower carbon fuels, which we are currently pursuing though our investment in the LNG-powered, DF bunker tankers.”

“However, we are also closely monitoring the developments of alternative marine fuels and technologies. SFI has invested in research and development through partnerships with relevant players in an effort to capture early market positions.”

A Global Player with Strong Local Roots

Moving forward, SFI endeavours to build a global fleet that creates value for stakeholders to “make Singapore proud,” according to Pai.

“Our company strives to provide quality tonnage assets on both spot and longer-term basis to third parties in the market,” he exclaims.

“Besides being commercially profitable, we want to be a leader in driving sustainability at the port of Singapore and beyond. The types of investments that we are making at SFI is a clear reflection of that.”

“My vision is to grow SFI into a world-class player in sustainable shipping and bunkering, with strong Singapore roots,” concludes Pai.

Related: Singapore: Singfar International makes shipping market debut with 5+5 DF bunker tanker newbuilding order


Photo credit: Singfar International
Published: 31 May, 2021

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Kambara Kisen orders methanol dual-fuel bulker from Tsuneishi Shipbuilding

Firm ordered a 65,700-dwt methanol dual-fuel dry bulk carrier with Tsuneishi Shipbuilding; MOL signed a basic agreement on time charter for the newbuilding that is slated to be delivered in 2027.





Kambara Kisen orders methanol dual-fuel bulker from Tsuneishi Shipbuilding

Japanese shipowner Kambara Kisen has ordered a 65,700-dwt methanol dual-fuel dry bulk carrier newbuilding from Tsuneishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd, according to Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) on Wednesday (20 September).

MOL said it signed a basic agreement on time charter for the newbuilding that is slated to be delivered in 2027. 

The vessel will be designed to use e-methanol produced primarily by synthesising recovered CO2 and hydrogen produced using renewable energy sources, and bio-methanol derived from biogas. 

The vessel's design maximises cargo space while ensuring sufficient methanol tank capacity set to allow the required navigational distance assuming various routes, at the same time maximising cargo space. 

MOL added the vessel is expected to serve mainly in the transport of biomass fuels from the east coast of North America to Europe and the U.K. and within the Pacific region, as well as grain from the east coast of South America and the U.S. Gulf Coast to Europe and the Far East.

Details on the time-charter contract:

Shipowner: Kambara Kisen wholly owned subsidiary
Charterer: MOL Drybulk Ltd.
Charter period 2027: -

Details on the newbuilding methanol dual fuel bulk carrier:

LOA: About 200 m
Breadth: About 32.25 m
Draft: About 13.80 m
Deadweight: About 65,700 MT
Hold capacity: About 81,500m3
Shipyard: Tsuneishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.

Photo credit: Mitsui O.S.K. Lines
Published: 22 September, 2023

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Argus Media: Alternatives may drive methanol market growth

Driven by low-carbon policies and regulations, the transportation sector — especially the marine fuels industry — could be a source of heightened demand, according to Argus.





RESIZED Argus media

The growth of sustainable alternatives to traditional methanol production sources likely will shape the market over the next several years, industry leaders said this week at the Argus Methanol Forum.

20 September 

Driven by low-carbon policies and regulations, the transportation sector — especially the marine fuels industry — could be a source of heightened demand.

"The aim is to be net zero by 2050 but [those solutions are] expensive today and one of the main challenges to build e-methanol or bio-methanol plants is a huge queue for these pieces of equipment that aren't available," Anita Gajadhar, executive director for Swiss-based methanol producer Proman, said.

Bio-based and e-methanol plants of commercial scale, like Proman's natural gas-fed 1.9 million metric tonne/yr M5000 plant in Trinidad and Tobago, are not ready today.

"But that's not to say 10 years from now they won't be there," Gajadhar added.

Smaller projects are popping up. Dutch fuels and gas supplier OCI Global announced plans last week to double the green methanol capacity at its Beaumont, Texas, facility to 400,000 t/yr and will add e-methanol to production for the first time. Production will use feedstocks such as renewable natural gas (RNG), green hydrogen and biogas.

The globally oversupplied methanol market will not get any major supply additions starting in 2024 until 2027. But that oversupply will not last long, Gajadhar said.

Global demand has slowed this year, driven by stagnate economic growth and higher interest rates, according to industry observers.

As much as half of methanol demand is tied to GDP growth, with total methanol demand estimates at 88.9mn t globally in 2023. This is essentially flat from 2022, but up from 88.3m t in 2021 and 87.7mn t in 2020, Dave McCaskill, vice-president of methanol and derivatives for Argus Media's consulting service, said.

Demand is not expected to rebound to 2019 levels of 89.6mn t until 2024 or 2025, he added.

The period of oversupply combined with lackluster demand places methanol in a transition period, Gajadhar said, which opens the door for sustainable feedstock alternatives to shape market growth.

Danish container shipping giant Maersk and French marine logistics company CMA-CGM announced earlier this week a partnership to drive decarbonization in shipping. The partnership seeks to develop fuel and operations standards for bunkering with alternative fuels. The companies will develop net-zero solutions, including new technology and alternative fuels.

Maersk has previously ordered dual-fuel methanol-powered vessels and CMA-CGM LNG-propelled vessels.

The demand for alternative feedstock-derived fuels is there, but the ability to scale-up such production lags. Certified lower-carbon methanol produced using carbon capture and sequestration — also known as blue methanol— can ramp up much more quickly, according to Gajadhar.

By Steven McGinn

Photo credit and source: Argus Media
Published: 22 September, 2023

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Royal Caribbean completes over 12 weeks of bio bunker fuel testing in Europe

Firm expanded its biofuel testing this summer in Europe to two additional ships — Royal Caribbean International’s “Symphony of the Seas” and Celebrity Cruises’ “Celebrity Apex”.





Royal Caribbean completes over 12 weeks of bio bunker fuel testing in Europe

Royal Caribbean Group on Tuesday (19 September) said it successfully completed over 12 consecutive weeks of biofuel testing in Europe. 

Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas became the first ship in the maritime industry to successfully test and use a biofuel blend in Barcelona to meet part of her fuel needs. 

The company confirmed onboard technical systems met operational standards, without quality or safety concerns, demonstrating the biofuel blend is a reliable “drop in” supply of lower emission energy that ships can use to set sail across Europe and beyond. 

The tests across Europe also provided valuable data to understand the availability and scalability of biofuel in the region, the firm added. 

Jason Liberty, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group, said: “This is a pivotal moment for Royal Caribbean Group’s alternative fuel journey.”

“Following our successful trial of biofuels this summer, we are one step closer to bringing our vision for net-zero cruising to life. As we strive to protect and promote the vibrant oceans we sail, we are determined to accelerate innovation and improve how we deliver vacation experiences responsibly.”

President of the Port of Barcelona, Lluís Salvadó, said: “Royal Caribbean’s success is a clear example of how commitment to innovation makes possible the development of solutions to decarbonise the maritime sector.”

“In this case, it involves the cruise sector and focuses on biofuels, an area in which the Port of Barcelona is already working to become an energy hub, producing and supplying zero carbon fuels, such as green hydrogen and ammonia, and of other almost zero-carbon alternative fuels, such as methanol, biofuels or synthetic fuels. Innovation and collaboration between ports and shipping companies is key to accelerate the decarbonisation of maritime transport.”

The company began testing biofuels last year and expanded the trail this summer in Europe to two additional ships — Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Apex

The sustainable biofuel blends tested were produced by purifying renewable raw materials like waste oils and fats and combining them with fuel oil to create an alternative fuel that is cleaner and more sustainable. The biofuel blends tested are accredited by International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC), a globally recognized organization that ensures sustainability of biofuels and verifies reductions of related emissions.

With Symphony of the Seas departing from the Port of Barcelona and Celebrity Apex departing from the Port of Rotterdam, both ships accomplished multiple sailings using biofuel and contributed critical data on the fuel’s capabilities. 

“These results will help accelerate Royal Caribbean Group’s plans to continue testing the use of different types of biofuels on upcoming European sailings this fall. The company is exploring strategic partnerships with suppliers and ports to ensure the availability of biofuel and infrastructures to advance the maritime energy transition,” the firm said. 

Photo credit: Royal Caribbean Group 
Published: 22 September, 2023

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