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North P&I Club: Follow these pointers to prevent bunker spills

‘Many bunker spills occur when a fuel tank overflows during the bunkering process,’ it finds.




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The following article is written by Alvin Foster, Loss Prevention Executive, at the North P&I Club:

Oil pollution incidents can lead to expensive claims, where clean-up costs, fines and damages to affected third parties can reach several million dollars. But most oil pollution claims do not involve tankers or oil cargoes – pollution caused by the release of bunker fuel is more common.

The environmental impact of spilled heavy fuel oil can be more severe than a crude oil cargo. Lighter fractions of crude can evaporate whereas residual fuels will not and are therefore said to be ‘persistent’.

The release of fuel oil into the seas can occur if a tank is breached. This may be as a result of a collision or impact with a fixed or floating object (FFO).

However, many bunker spills happen during bunkering operations and the vast majority of these spills could be avoided.

Many bunker spills occur when a fuel tank overflows during the bunkering process. A vessel’s storage tanks will be designed to overflow into the designated overflow tank and if the overflow tank fills completely, the fuel spills out of the tank vent head, onto the deck and into the water. Overflow tanks can also fill up when the bunker manifold is over-pressurised and the system’s safety valve relieves the pressure into the overflow tank.

Numerous common factors emerge when looking at the underlying causes of bunker spills. Some are outlined as follows:

• Not acting on overflow alarms
Overflow tanks are fitted with float alarms that activate when a set level is reached. These are usually positioned quite low in the tank to allow plenty of time for the engineers to act. On some vessels, a flow switch is fitted to the manifold safety valve drain line, which activates an alarm if flow is detected. In some incidents, overflow alarms have activated but the crew did not take immediate action to investigate.

• Overflow alarms not fitted or not working
There is no statutory requirement to fit alarms to the overflow system and in such cases crew vigilance and suitable monitoring of the overflow tank contents is vital. For those vessels fitted with such alarms, it is important that they are periodically tested to ensure that they will provide the all-important early warning when it really matters.

• Failure to monitor bunker tank levels
The crew must not rely on tank high level alarms and overflow alarms during bunkering. The tank levels must be monitored throughout, paying particular attention when tanks are almost full and changing over to new tanks. If the wrong valve is accidentally operated, a tank level could rise and overflow unless detected and corrected by a vigilant engineer.

• No effective watch at the bunker station
The bunker station should be manned during the bunkering operation. This not only provides visual monitoring and checking for pollution, but is also an important means of communicating with the supplying vessel or barge.

• Communication between bunker barge and receiving vessel
There must be a means of communication between the supplying and receiving vessels’ personnel at all times. If a problem occurs that requires an emergency stop of the transfer, the two vessels must be able to communicate immediately. It is good practice to test these communication channels prior to commencing operations.

• Not following procedures or the bunker checklist
A vessel’s bunker checklist can be lengthy and there may be a temptation to bypass some of the instructions to speed up the process. This can have costly consequences. Shipowners should ensure that the checklist and supporting policies and procedures are sensible and workable. The vessel’s crew must appreciate the importance of the procedures and understand their purpose.

• Supplier exceeding maximum pressure or flow rate
Before bunkering commences, the supplying and receiving vessel must agree a maximum transfer rate and a maximum pumping pressure. There have been instances where the supplier has attempted to exceed these limits to speed up the transfer and has resulted in overflow.

Less common are spills caused by defects to the bunker piping or tanks. Bunker system pipework, fittings and vents that are poorly maintained or neglected can fail in service. Implementing and following a sensible but robust planned maintenance program will prevent the bunker system failing into such a dangerous condition.

Published: 20 June, 2018

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SMW 2024: Ken Energy and Green COP partner to advance bio bunker fuels in Singapore

Through partnership between its two members, CSA said SGD 10 million will be invested into development and production of biofuel blends and aims to launch commercial-scale production by 2026.





SMW 2024: Ken Energy and Green COP partner to advance bio bunker fuels in Singapore

The Coastal Sustainability Alliance (CSA), an industry collaborative effort led by Kuok Maritime Group (KMG), on Tuesday 916 April) announced its plans to advance the maritime biofuel ecosystem in Singapore with up to SGD 10 million (USD 7.33 million) in investments. 

The partnership will be spearheaded by two of its Alliance members – Green COP and Ken Energy – which formalised a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today at the Tech Stage (EXPO @SMW) at Singapore Maritime Week 2024.

Over the next two years, the CSA aims to develop stable B30, B40 and B50 biofuel blends and achieve production and commercial adoption of up to 50% (B50), derived from 50% agri-waste to Biobutanol – a blend poised to significantly reduce carbon emissions in maritime operations.

This process includes biofuel certification, commencing sea trials, building a production plant by 2025, and launching commercial-scale production by 2026. An initial SGD 500,000 angel investment has been secured for establishing a pilot plant for processing agri-waste, and over SGD 10 million is expected to be invested in scaling production capabilities.

These efforts in decarbonising the maritime sector will contribute to the CSA’s efforts to build the next generation of Singapore’s coastal ecosystem and are timely to address the potential surge in demand for sustainable biofuels.

Mr Tan Thai Yong, Managing Director, Strategic Projects and Technology, Kuok Maritime Group and Chairperson, CSA Council, said: “The formation of biofuel ecosystem under the Coastal Sustainability Alliance demonstrates our commitment to foster partnerships and deliver innovative sustainable maritime solutions for our conventional fleet owners as they progressively switch to lower emissions vessels.

“In bringing together Green COP and Ken Energy, we are laying the groundwork for a new biofuel supply chain and providing a viable alternative in the energy transition for the maritime sector. This initiative is more than an advancement in fuel technology as it exemplifies the power of collaboration, underscoring the CSA’s role as a steward and catalyst for positive change in the maritime industry.”

The CSA is actively driving maritime biofuel development to provide a viable biofuel alternative for vessels to reduce carbon emissions. The ecosystem will secure a ready supply of biofuel for local coastal demand and ensure the quality and stability of the biofuels with supply chain track and trace. This initiative also seeks to bolster Singapore’s standing in the Global Biofuels Alliance over the long term by building new R&D and innovation tracks in line with the nation’s environmental commitments.

Through this partnership, Ken Energy will play a pivotal role in strengthening the market and commercial utilisation of Biobutanol in maritime operations. This comprises vital aspects such as operational feasibility, life cycle assessment, and carbon emission reduction strategies. Ken Energy’s expertise and resources will be instrumental in optimising the practical implementation of Biobutanol for a B30-B50 blend and subsequent market integration in providing B50 to its customer fleet of bunker barges and CSA members.

Desmond Chong, Managing Director of Ken Energy, said: “We believe in the green transition that the maritime industry is embarking on. This conviction underscores our strategic collaboration with Green COP. Leveraging our proficiency in marine transportation logistics alongside Green COP's commendable sustainable biofuel production, we aim to spur the industry's widespread adoption of biofuels."

Green COP, with its proprietary technology, specialises in the efficient conversion of plant-based biowaste into sustainable biofuels through a patented pre-treatment and fermentation process. This innovative, cost-effective approach maximises resource utilisation and minimises waste generation, contributing to the circular economy and environmental sustainability.

Dr Hanson Lee, CEO of Green COP, said, “Green COP presents existing fleet owners with a coherent biofuel solution to achieve their net-zero targets in a progressive manner. We envision a future where Sustainable Marine Fuels (SMF), alongside coastal electrification, become the norm. The CSA has provided us access to market insights, industry collaborations and the necessary incubation for our growth. We look forward to working with more like-minded partners to spur biofuels research and adoption.”

Earlier in March 2024, Green COP signed an MOU agreement with 3Y Energy to develop and optimise green biofuel blends for the maritime and transportation sectors. Through this collaboration, Green COP will set up a pilot plant capable of processing a ton of biomass daily to produce sustainable fuels, while 3Y Energy will provide the innovative solutions in green fuel utilisation including biofuel blends. 

Introducing the B50 blend represents a significant advancement in reducing carbon emissions within the maritime industry. For every metric ton (mt) of B50 fuel burned, carbon emissions are reduced to 1.5 mt, a substantial improvement over the B30 blend, which reduces CO2 emissions to 2.1 mt per metric ton of fuel burned. Additionally, the production of Biobutanol, a key component of the B50 blend, is more energy-efficient and yields a higher volume of fuel compared to traditional methods used for producing Fatty Acid Methyl Ester (FAME). This enhances the sustainability of the fuel production process and supports the maritime sector’s transition to greener energy sources.

The CSA will continue to broaden the scope of the pioneering biofuel ecosystem and seek additional collaborations from stakeholders across the maritime and energy sectors to enhance technological, adoption and logistical capabilities.

This development follows closely on the heels of the Coastal Sustainability Alliance PXO Electric Fleet Signing and MoU Ceremony, held on 12 April.

Related: Alliance commences building of electric tug and supply boat for Singapore waters
Related: SMW 2024: Singapore is preparing port for multi-fuel future, says Transport Minister
Related: SMW 2024: MPA partners with S&P Global and Bunkerchain in digital ship identity
Related: SMW2024: 18th Singapore Maritime Week opens with ‘Actions meet Ambition’ theme
Related: SMW 2024: MPA to set up facility for maritime workforce to train in handling new bunker fuels
Related: SMW 2024: Singapore-Rotterdam Green and Digital Shipping Corridor partners to implement first-mover pilot projects


Photo credit: Coastal Sustainability Alliance
Published: 17 April 2024

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Alternative Fuels

SMW 2024: Pacific Environment, Ulsan Port Authority to accelerate zero-emission shipping and ports

Both signed a MoU to develop zero-emission shipping and ports in South Korea, within Asia, across transpacific and global corridors including possibility of supporting Korea Ports to transition to green bunker fuels.





SMW 2024: Pacific Environment, Ulsan Port Authority mulls transition to green bunker fuels in South Korea

Pacific Environment on Tuesday (16 April) said it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ulsan Port Authority outlining a vision of multi-year collaboration to accelerate zero-emission shipping and ports in the Republic of Korea, within Asia, across transpacific and global corridors. 

The MOU Signing Ceremony occurred during a joint reception co-hosted by Pacific Environment and Ulsan Port Authority with more than 50 participants during the Singapore Maritime Week 2024.

The MOU includes areas of possible cooperation: 

  • Supporting the Republic of Korea to decarbonise both its domestic shipping and harbour craft industry to align all Republic of Korea ports with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 1.5 degree Celsius trajectory
  • Support the Uslan Port to design and implement green shipping corridors across Asia, the transpacific and global corridors
  • Support the Ulsan Port and Republic of Korea Ports to transition to green fuels and provide electric power and zero-emission lifecycle fuels to help marine vessels meet zero-emissions prior to 2050 
  • Provide the Ulsan Port with an action plan to achieve the International Maritime Organization’s 2023 Greenhouse Gas Strategy 
  • Support the Ulsan Port to address additional marine and climate policy issues, such as ending ocean plastic pollution, fossil fuel shipping pollution, among others
  • Support improvement of the Ulsan Port and Republic of Korea Port’s system to prompt the use of green fuels, develop workforce safety standards and train workers.

This is the second MOU that Pacific Environment has signed with Republic of Korea maritime leaders. Last May 2023, Pacific Environment and Korean Maritime Institute signed a multiyear MOU to accelerate zero-emission shipping and ports. 

Soonyo Jeong, Vice President, Ulsan Port Authority, said: “We are excited about our partnership with Pacific Environment and look forward to the support the organisation can provide on-the-ground to move our port and our country to a zero-emission future.”

“As the largest bunkering port in the Republic of Korea, we hope to do our part to address climate change and move shipping to a 1.5 degree Celsius future.”

Shannon Wright, Executive Director, Pacific Environment, said: “Pacific Environment is proud to partner with the Port of Ulsan. Today’s signing of the Memorandum of Agreement between the Port of Ulsan and Pacific Environment is an exciting start to a multiyear partnership. 

“Ulsan Port has been designated as the only green ship fuel supply port in the Republic of Korea, and aims to become an green energy logistics hub.”

“We look forward to supporting the port with strategic policy and planning assistance to support the efforts towards zero-emission shipping and ports.”

Related: SMW 2024: Singapore is preparing port for multi-fuel future, says Transport Minister
Related: SMW 2024: MPA partners with S&P Global and Bunkerchain in digital ship identity
Related: SMW2024: 18th Singapore Maritime Week opens with ‘Actions meet Ambition’ theme
Related: SMW 2024: MPA to set up facility for maritime workforce to train in handling new bunker fuels
Related: SMW 2024: Singapore-Rotterdam Green and Digital Shipping Corridor partners to implement first-mover pilot projects


Photo credit: Pacific Environment
Published: 17 April 2024

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Singapore: PIL and CCS ink MoU to deepen cooperation in shipping decarbonisation

PIL and CCS-affiliated unit CCSWR will cooperate in areas including green bunker fuel supply chains, sustainability regulation compliance, knowledge sharing on green fuel bunkering and lashing technology.





Singapore: PIL and CCS ink MoU to deepen cooperation in shipping decarbonisation

Singapore shipping line Pacific International Lines (PIL) on Tuesday (16 April) said it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the China Classification Society Wuhan Rules And Research Institute (CCSWR) pledging to deepen cooperation in shipping decarbonisation and beyond on 15 April.

A directly affiliated unit of China Classification Society (CCS), CCSWR develops classification regulations and technical standards, as well as provides technical services.

The MOU was signed by PIL Head of Fleet Division Mr Goh Chung Hun and Director of CCSWR Mr Gan Shaowei. PIL CEO Mr Lars Kastrup, PIL Executive Chairman Mr S.S. Teo, and President of CCS Mr Sun Feng were also present to witness the signing ceremony. 

Under the MOU, both PIL and CCSWR will explore the use of alternative fuels as well as onboard carbon capture and storage system to reduce greenhouse gases emissions from vessels. 

Singapore: PIL and CCS ink MoU to deepen cooperation in shipping decarbonisation

PIL and CCS ink MoU to deepen cooperation in shipping decarbonisation

The increased collaboration will also see PIL and CCSWR cooperate extensively in the following areas, among others:

  • Green fuel supply chains
  • Sustainability regulation compliance
  •  Knowledge sharing on marine green fuel bunkering and lashing technology
  • Upskilling personnel from both organisations on new technologies and best practices 

“As we take concrete action to drive a sustainable future, we also believe in joining forces with like-minded partners like CCSWR so that we can augment each other’s efforts to achieve our common environmental goals,” the firm said.

“Putting on our future-focused lens together, we can minimise the shipping industry’s environmental footprint and make the world a better place for future generations.”


Photo credit: Pacific International Lines
Published: 17 April 2024

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