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Interview: Vice President of TotalEnergies Marine Fuels takes helm of firm’s decarbonisation route

“In TotalEnergies, we already have projects along the e-Fuel value chain, from green electricity and green / blue hydrogen to e-Fuel production that will be integrated along the marine fuels value chain in time to come,” shares Louise Tricoire.

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Louise Tricoire, appointed as Vice President of TotalEnergies Marine Fuels in September, has made it her raison d'être to support decarbonisation of the shipping sector – including maritime operations of French parent firm TotalEnergies – learns Manifold Times.

The Singapore bunkering publication caught up with Tricoire on the side lines of the 22nd edition of Singapore International Bunkering Conference, also known as SIBCON 2022, to understand her motivations.

“I started my career at TotalEnergies 20 years ago, 15 of which were spent in management roles leading sales and operations, development or M&A, in the marketing downstream branch of the company covering retail stations, fuels & lubricants distribution segments,” she shares.

“Then, I spent two years within the company’s LNG business unit negotiating the two first deals we made with our partner Adani in India, around LNG marketing and regasification facilities. It was when knowledge of LNG contracts, production, trading routes and mechanisms was acquired.

“In the last three years, I was focused on decarbonising TotalEnergies’ operations and led a central team to find and deploy solutions for reducing GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions across all upstream and downstream activities, including for oil, gas, fuels & lubricant and shipping.”

Tricoire, now with a firm foundation of what decarbonisation means and the solutions necessary to get there, believes TotalEnergies Marine Fuels is ready to help the shipping sector meet International Maritime Organization (IMO)’s 2030 and 2050 targets.

“The global shipping industry is on a collective journey towards decarbonisation and I am delighted to be entering the sector at such a crucial phase in this transition. I am looking forward to seeing the strides we will continue to advance in supporting our customers and the wider shipping community,” she says. 

“Further, I also know very well the internal world of TotalEnergies and our ambitions are high in terms of becoming a major player in the production of decarbonized energies such as renewable power, green H2 or e-fuels. That helps a lot when we want to develop new businesses; where you need to know how to navigate in this environment and which internal partners to engage.

 “Arriving here [in this new role at Singapore], there is definitely more to learn about the marine fuels industry, especially in this dynamic ecosystem. Fortunately, I am supported by a very good team that is highly experienced and knows the industry very well..”

Decarbonisation of TotalEnergies’ Bunker Fuels Portfolio

Tricoire was keen to explain that TotalEnergies – which itself currently charters nearly 60 vessels – understands the challenges shipowners face towards IMO 2030/2050.

“The experience of chartering a fleet of this size has given us expertise about the different ways to reduce a vessel’s carbon footprint. We have deep knowledge internally about what the shipping industry needs and how we can help to decarbonise it,” she notes.

In an effort to support shipping industry sustainability, Tricoire informs TotalEnergies Marine Fuels has stopped selling High Sulphur Fuel Oil (HSFO) worldwide since IMO 2020. To date, the firm only maintains marine gas oil (MGO) and Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil (VLSFO) inventories within its fossil oil based products portfolio.

For the immediate term, TotalEnergies Marine Fuels is already offering two solutions to help its shipping customers reduce GHG emissions – including the provision of biofuels from 2023 which she announced at SIBCON.

“First of all, we are offering B24 to B30 biofuels as a drop-in solution which will reduce around 20-25% GHG emissions of a ship. We offer this at Singapore port from 1 January 2023 where we will have a supply chain based on UCOME (Used Cooking Oil Methyl Ester) blended with VLSFO. Biofuels is something which we are also developing in Europe, especially in France, and ARA,” states Tricoire.

 “Secondly, we offer LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) which is a product we know very well in terms of operations and safety. Over the past two years, we have conducted 120 safe bunkering operations in Europe via the Gas Agility at Rotterdam and the Gas Vitality at Marseille. By Q1 2023, we will also have the Brassavola delivering LNG to receiving vessels at the Port of Singapore. LNG delivers measurable emissions reductions benefit as a marine fuel, allowing for up to 23% reduction of GHG emissions.

“Further, we are also able to incorporate biogas in our European LNG bunkers with the help of TotalEnergies’ dedicated internal Biogas business unit and are studying the same in Singapore for the future.”

For the longer term, Tricoire states TotalEnergies Marine Fuels is currently investigating new decarbonisation solutions for shipping via, amongst other, participation in the Methanol Institute, Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping and a joint study with Itochu.

“In TotalEnergies, we already have projects along the e-Fuel value chain, from green electricity and green / blue hydrogen to e-Fuel production that will be integrated along the marine fuels value chain in time to come,” she reveals.

 “The first batch of e-Fuels will most probably be integrated into the bunkering value chain around green shipping corridors. Our strong positions in in many parts of the world will help us bring decarbonized bunker fuels close to these corridors.”

 

Photo credit: TotalEnergies Marine Fuels
Published: 6 December, 2022

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Biofuel

TotalEnergies Marine Fuels renews ISCC EU certification for bio bunker fuel  

Firm’s operations teams in Singapore and Geneva successfully renewed its ISCC EU sustainability certification for the supply of biofuel bunkers, says Louise Tricoire, Vice President.

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TotalEnergies Marine Fuels renews ISCC EU certification for bio bunker fuel

Louise Tricoire, Vice President of TotalEnergies Marine Fuels recently said the firm’s operations teams in Singapore and Geneva successfully renewed its International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) EU sustainability certification for the supply of biofuel bunkers.

“This means that TotalEnergies Marine Fuels can continue sourcing and supplying marine biofuels in accordance with EU renewable energy regulations ensuring the highest sustainability standards,” she said in a social media. 

“It's the third year in a row that we have successfully renewed this certification, after a deep and comprehensive audit which showed zero non-conformity.”

She added marine biofuels have grown in demand among shipping companies that want to cut greenhouse gas emissions immediately. 

“TotalEnergies Marine Fuels offers marine biofuels commercially in Singapore and we are starting in Europe. This certification enables us to accompany our customers in their decarbonisation journey with the best standard solutions available today.”

Photo credit: TotalEnergies Marine Fuels
Published: 29 September, 2023

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Alternative Fuels

Seapath, Pilot LNG launch JV to develop dedicated LNG bunkering facility in US Gulf Coast

With operations beginning in early 2026, the construction of the new facility will provide bunker fuel for LNG-powered vessels in the greater Houston/ Galveston area of Texas.

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Seapath, Pilot LNG launch JV to develop dedicated LNG bunkering facility in US Gulf Coast

Seapath, a maritime subsidiary of Libra Group, and Pilot LNG, LLC (Pilot), a leading Houston-based clean energy solutions company, on Thursday (28 September) announced that they have formed a joint venture (JV) to develop, construct, and operate the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering facility in the U.S. Gulf Coast.

With operations beginning in early 2026, the construction of the new facility will provide bunker fuel for LNG-powered vessels in the greater Houston/ Galveston area of Texas.

The project, which will be developed with an initial investment of approximately USD 150 million, meets the needs of a vital global and U.S. trade corridor. According to the Greater Houston Partnership, the Greater Houston waterways generated over USD 906 billion in economic value to the U.S. in 2022. 

In addition, a 2023 U.S. Department of Transportation report recognised the Greater Houston area as the top US port by tonnage.

While LNG bunkering infrastructure has been developing overseas, U.S. infrastructure supporting its uptake has developed slower. Pilot and Seapath’s LNG bunkering facility will use their combined expertise to serve essential U.S. Gulf Coast port complexes, including servicing major cruise lines and container vessel operators.

Led by LNG industry veterans with extensive experience on the terminal and marine side, Pilot LNG is committed to delivering LNG to new and existing U.S. markets, including fuel/bunkering terminals and related infrastructure. This is the first in a series of strategic investments by Seapath and Pilot to create a network of LNG facilities in areas of unmet need in the U.S.

“Seapath is dedicated to investing across the marine infrastructure space and will provide strong financial backing to Pilot’s LNG bunker projects,” said Jonathan Cook, CEO of Pilot. 

“We look forward to working closely with Seapath to support the gradual decarbonization of the marine industry. We look forward to delivering a U.S. Gulf Coast facility in a timely manner based on the extensive development work already completed to meet the significant needs for LNG fuel, which also supports ongoing decarbonization across the industry.”

A U.S. company led by Merchant Mariners and former service members, Seapath was formed recognizing the need for critical investments in the U.S. maritime economy. The company plans to continue investing in innovative projects within maritime connectivity, industrial technologies, port real estate, and Jones Act vessels.

“The infrastructure under development will provide LNG to a growing market seeking cleaner marine fuel, particularly as customers look for economical ways to comply with tightening emissions regulations, including regulations set by the IMO in 2020,” said Seapath CEO Greg Otto.  

“We are pleased to be working with a first-class team in Pilot LNG and with some of the leading ports in the United States to bring this critical LNG bunkering infrastructure to the Gulf Coast region where there is high demand for it. Thanks to our valuable partnership with Pilot, we look forward to developing more of these much-needed facilities in ports across the United States.”

Seapath is one of 30 operational entities of Libra Group, a privately owned business group whose subsidiaries own and operate assets in nearly 60 countries with six business sectors, including maritime and renewable energy. The Group’s three maritime subsidiaries include Lomar Shipping, a global shipping company with a fleet of more than 40 vessels, and Americraft Marine, which owns and operates a Jones Act Shipyard in Palatka, Florida. Significantly, the shipyard is among the few in the U.S. to construct crew transfer vessels to service the growing offshore-wind industry and traditional inland-marine assets such as tugboats and barges.

“Libra Group is committed to advancing innovation across our sectors, from maritime to aerospace, to renewable energy and more. As a global organization, we will harness insights from across our network to bolster the uptake of more sustainable technologies to advance our sectors while identifying potential applications across our other sectors,” said Manos Kouligkas, CEO of Libra Group.

“Adoption of more sustainable fuels is critical to future-proofing our industries against a rapidly changing ecosystem. We will continue to support the transition to greener energy solutions, and we look forward to following Seapath’s work to evolve the U.S. maritime industrial sector.”

Pilot and Seapath will continue with all front-end engineering and design development for their projects in the third and fourth quarters of 2023 to file applications with the necessary federal and state agencies to permit, site, construct and operate the small-scale LNG terminal for marine fuel. Pilot and Seapath anticipate announcing details of their project investment by the second half of 2024.

Photo credit: Libra Group
Published: 29 September, 2023

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Biofuel

Bureau Veritas on biofuels: The transitional bunker fuel of today? 

BV published an article stating that biofuels are a promising turnkey transitional fuel but outlined practical and technical issues that shipping companies should consider.

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Bureau Veritas on biofuels: The transitional bunker fuel of today?

Classification society Bureau Veritas on Thursday (28 September) published an article stating that biofuels is a promising turnkey transitional bunker fuel but outlined practical and technical issues that shipping companies should consider: 

The race is on to transition to low-carbon alternative fuels and biofuels are gaining momentum. But what are they? Biofuels are gaseous or liquid fuels produced from biomass – organic matter of biological and non-fossil origin. Easily adaptable to existing vessels, biofuels are a promising turnkey transitional fuel. Let’s dive deeper to examine this promise.

ARE LOW-CARBON BIOFUELS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE?

Biofuels can be broadly categorized into three generations, some of which are ready for use in shipping, and others still maturing:

  • First generation, or conventional biofuels, are generated using agricultural crops, vegetable oil or food waste. These are the most commonly used biofuels worldwide.
  • Second generation, or advanced biofuels, are produced from- non-food biomass feedstocks like residual feedstocks from forestry or crops. They could have fewer negative environmental impacts relating to land use and food production.
  • Third generation biofuels are a future generation of biofuels currently needing further development, produced from algae and microbes.

Currently, first-generation biofuels are the most widely available. However, their scalability is constrained by the origin of their feedstock, which is food-purposed crops and thus entails direct and indirect land-use changes.

Second-generation biofuels, produced from non-food feedstocks such as forest biomass and agricultural crops, are free of some constraints associated with first-generation biofuels. Their role in decarbonizing shipping will likely be crucial. However, it will require a sharp uptake in supply, which inherently requires significant investments.

DO BIOFUEL PRODUCTION PATHWAYS MATTER?

Yes, they absolutely do! The way a biofuel is produced and the feedstock used are key when analyzing a biofuel’s lifecycle GHG emissions. They therefore have an impact on determining whether they can be considered as low-carbon fuel. There is currently no globally accepted standard or certification in place to ensure the end-to-end sustainable production of biofuels. First generation biofuels, for example, are carbon neutral on paper. But, this claim becomes far more complex from a well-to-wake perspective and when considering more holistic sustainability criteria.

What other kind of ramifications might biofuel production entail? For one, the land needed for production is already in high demand to expand croplands around the world. This puts first-generation biofuel production and food markets in competition with each other – not an easy battle to win. From an ethical standpoint, most would prioritize meeting global food demand over fueling ships.

WHAT SHIPPING COMPANIES NEED TO KNOW

When it comes to biofuel use there are two broad categories of considerations for shipping companies: the practical and the technical.

ON THE PRACTICAL SIDE…

Thus far, as with many fuels, it is difficult to predict the exact future prices of biofuels. Blending biofuels with fossil fuels can reduce the overall energy content which means more fuel is needed to maintain performance. Besides, maintenance may have to be adapted in cooperation with OEMs depending on which biofuels and blends are used. The latter can lead to additional OPEX costs that shipping companies will need to shoulder.

Another crucial factor is availability. At current production rates biofuels are unlikely to be able to meet a large proportion of global maritime demand. Competition with other sectors, such as land-based transportation, may compound concerns surrounding availability. This factor is not, however, specific to biofuels – availability remains a challenge for several other potential marine fuels.

The practical disadvantage of biofuels is a question of supply – particularly for the more ecological second- and third-generations. Theoretically, these later second generation biofuels could become a flexible and sustainable refueling option. Their required feedstocks are available worldwide, and port infrastructure should not require significant adaptations to accommodate them. Practically, however, they need to be produced at much greater scale.

AND THE TECHNICAL SIDE

One of the major advantages of biofuels is the maturity of compatible engines. Vessels typically require no modification to use biofuels, making them a “drop in” replacement for conventional marine fuels. This sets biofuels apart from the majority of alternative fuels – including hydrogen, ammonia and LNG – which require specific engines or fuel storage and supply systems.

Characteristically speaking, biofuels are similar to standard fuel oil. This means minimal investment would be needed to meet evolving regulations and ensure crew safety onboard.

WHAT REGULATIONS ARE IN PLACE FOR BIOFUELS?

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is now developing guidelines for the life cycle GHG analysis of marine fuels, which is expected to be the cornerstone when considering the emissions reduction potential of marine biofuels.

Specific biofuel regulations may still be in the early stages, but ship operators are adapting their fleets now to comply with IMO emissions regulations. Biofuels may be part of the solution to reducing emissions and meeting compliance requirements. With a sustainable production pathway, biofuels promise significant carbon emissions reductions compared to standard fossil fuels.

Biofuels also appear to be in line with NOx (nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide) emission limits. The challenge, however, comes in proving compliance. This may require onboard emission testing or engine and fuel-specific NOx emissions validation testing. However, the IMO regulations now consider blends of 30% biofuel or less in the same way as traditional oil-based bunkers.

BIOFUEL READY

To help the industry prepare for the use of biofuels or biofuel blends, Bureau Veritas created its BIOFUEL READY notation. It provides a set of requirements and comprehensive guidelines for the necessary documentation and testing. Suitable for new and existing ships, BIOFUEL READY is one example of how we leverage our transversal expertise to support the maritime industry’s decarbonization journey and safely progress innovative solutions. This includes assessing NOx emissions, which remain at the forefront of current regulatory compliance.

Photo credit: Bureau Veritas
Published: 29 September, 2023

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