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SIBCON 2020: Deep dive finds out how bunkering value chain is coping with industry issues post Covid-19

Representatives of Oldendorff Carriers, Hafnia, TMFGS, and Sing Fuels provide their perspectives on scrubbers, bunker demand, market dynamics and more.




Deep dive MT

Several stakeholders in the bunkering value chain provided information on how their respective businesses were coping this year during a deep dive session at the 21st edition of Singapore International Bunkering Conference, also known as SIBCON 2020, on Tuesday (6 October).

Unni Einemo, Director & IMO Representative of the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA), who was moderating the session SIBCON Deep Dive: Managing the Strategic and Operational Impact to Industry Post COVID-19 asked panellists how they expect demand for bunkers to be in the next six to 12 months.

 She also asked the panel about how oil market dynamics caused by Covid-19 had influenced the choice of IMO 2020 compliant fuels in terms of price, availability and quality, including the use of scrubbers with HSFO, Covid-19 operational impacts, counterparty credit risk, and more.

Oldendorff Carriers 

“We have always been working on it and we knew the challenge when we knew we would be going for scrubbers,” said Jens Maul Jorgensen, Director of Bunkers at Oldendorff Carriers.

Jorgensen noted the German bulk carrier firm has been training its crew to operate scrubbers since more than a year ago and so far the company has not encountered any issues handling the equipment.

He added the company had already secured “a lot” of bunker contracts for high sulphur bunker fuel around the world, with the main bunkering port being Singapore.

In August 2019, Oldendorff Carriers further secured a 6,000 dwt bunker tanker dedicated to supplying its vessels with high sulphur bunker fuel at Singapore port. 

“The operation has been very successful and we will still have that for years to come. So, with good and proactive planning, there has been no issues at all with availability of high sulphur bunker fuel,” he shared.

Though the price difference between high sulphur bunkers and IMO 2020 compliant fuels has not been substantial, Jorgensen said Oldendorff still managed to produce “good savings” when looking at the whole cost of the operation.

“If you do proper planning, then you're also saving money. And if you've secure good client contracts, then you don't get hit so much. I will say this is still looking very, very positive,” he explained.

“I would say the savings are there every day.”


 “Our fleet and bunker pattern just didn't really justify doing scrubbers and thereby having to source high sulphur bunker fuel. And I do acknowledge that it makes sense for certain segments to use scrubbers but for us it didn't,” said Kasper Sørensen, Manager, Bunkers at Hafnia. 

Sørensen shared that the company saw plenty of availability of IMO 2020 compliant marine fuel at the major bunkering hubs and even at smaller ports. 

“And so I mean, availability wise it's been quite good. And obviously, if everyone can see the economical side of things the price difference between high sulphur bunkers and its low sulphur equivalents is not huge at the moment,” he adds.

“Our strategy is to secure term contracts wherever we see opportunities, in order to create some sort of stability of the quality of the fuel that we're getting. 

“We also introduced risk limitation and procedures in order to ensure that we weren't putting all our eggs in one basket.” 

Sørensen gave examples and explained Hafnia does not fully stock a whole vessel with one batch of fuel, and the company is constantly monitoring the data of suppliers provided by fuel quality experts.

“I think in this period with the new fuels and in this new market you could argue it's been a good opportunity mainly for bunkers suppliers to show their true colours and then for customers to find out what those colours really are,” he replied when asked about dealing with bunker claims.

“So it's a chance to shine, and it's a chance to fail. We've seen both approaches and luckily we've seen more of the ones on the positive side of things.” 

Sørensen believed it would be wise for fuel buyers to establish stronger relationships, potentially even partnerships with bunker suppliers to be on the favourable side of a bunker claim.

“A lot of the time, bunker suppliers are just one part of the chain and they have to move the claim backwards towards cargo suppliers, and maybe even refiners,” he explains. 

Total Marine Fuels Global Solutions (TMFGS)

“We have great data in Singapore because the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) produces the monthly bunker figures and we know bunker demand has stayed very robust in Singapore,” said Jesper Rosenkrans, Global Sales & Business Development Director at TMFGS. 

“Maybe a slight increase, but certainly not a drop. Whereas in other parts of the world we've seen a pretty significant decrease in demand.”

Rosenkrans notes a trend which is more likely to stay is the pickup that the company has seen in Chinese bunkering volumes.

“Depending on the estimates and the source of estimates, bunker volume at Chinese ports is probably between 10 to 15%, up this year, despite the backdrop of Covid-19,” he shares. 

“That's a trend that we will probably see continuing, that the Zhoushan Ningbo area will remain strong. And we're very excited that we've been able to enter that area together with our joint venture partner Zhejiang Energy Group, and we are already delivering bunkers through the TOTAL-ZEG JV entity, ZPMF.”

Moving forward, Rosenkrans believes Covid-19 has actually increased acceleration of interest in the newer types of marine fuels, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and biofuels.

“When preparing for IMO2020 we made the decision to focus on these cleaner marine fuels, and have intensified our strategic focus since,” he states. 

“There has not been a shift in our business strategy because of Covid-19. We remain fully committed to cleaner marine fuels for now and for the future.”

Sing Fuels

 “I think everybody was a little bit surprised in terms how fast things actually changed due to Covid-19,” shared Ulrich Hyldedahl Rasmussen, Vice President, Credit Risk Management at Sing Fuels.

 “We are seeing bankers and we are seeing credit insurers pulling out. So I do foresee that the liquidity in the market in the future is going to change.”

The development means everyone will be reviewing their counterparties as a counterparty three months ago might not be in the same shape as now or in another three months’ time, he notes. 

“So basically, the frequency of counterparty review is much more important now than ever before,” adds Rasmussen.

“I hope this will help drive change across the bunkering value chain for an increase in transparency.”

A series of SIBCON 2020 related articles have been earlier written by Manifold Times:

Related: SIBCON 2020: Singapore enters memorandum of cooperation on future fuels port network
Related: SIBCON 2020: Equatorial Marine Fuels provides view on local and global bunker markets post Covid-19
Related: SIBCON 2020: BIMCO Chief Shipping Analyst explains new business dynamics in bunker fuels sector
Related: Chairman of Technical Committee for Bunkering explains SS 660, TR 80; and cast an eye to the future
Related: SIBCON 2020: TR 48 reaps annual savings of at least SGD 80 million for bunkering sector
Related: SIBCON 2020: Singapore introduces new MFM bunkering standards SS 660 and TR 80
Related: SIBCON 2020: Powering Fuels of the Future, Driving towards Decarbonisation
Related: SIBCON 2020: Senior Minister highlights ‘quality resilience and sustainability’ for bunkering sector
Related: Infineum explains: ISO 8217:2017 should be viewed as a ‘minimum performance benchmark’ for VLSFOs
Related: Interview: Hafnia shares IMO 2020 preparations, promotes transparency for bunkering operations
Related: VPS: Shipowners face ‘tricky situation’ to balance VLSFO shelf life and wax appearance temperature
Related: VPS: Big data analysis reveals link between Covid-19 and spike in low flashpoint MGO off-spec cases
Related: Interview: Total Marine Fuels Global Solutions discusses sector growth, IMO 2020, and future plans
Related: SIBCON 2020: Evolution to a ‘completely different’ bunkering industry event, says organiser
Related: Singapore: SIBCON 2020 bunkering event to be hosted virtually


Photo credit: SIBCON 2020

Published: 9 October, 2020

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Singapore: Maritime Census 2023 survey deadline extended to 23 October 

‘MPA is conducting an annual survey to collect timely statistics on the maritime industry’s activities, technology, sustainability and manpower developments,’ says the port authority.





SG bunker tanker sailing Photo by Manifold Times

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Wednesday (27 September) said the Maritime Census 2023 survey deadline has been extended to 23 October. 

“MPA is conducting an annual survey to collect timely statistics on the maritime industry’s activities, technology, sustainability and manpower developments,” it said in a social media post. 

Maritime firms selected for the survey will be notified by email or post to complete the survey online via

“Your participation will help us shape policies and programmes that will drive #MaritimeSG forward,” it added. 

Manifold Times previously reported MPA announcing it was conducting the census to collect timely statistics. 

Related: Singapore: MPA conducts Maritime Census 2023 to collect timely statistics

Photo credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 28 September, 2023

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Alternative Fuels

GCMD, BCG survey highlights three maritime decarbonisation archetypes

Survey identified three decarbonisation archetypes within the shipping industry, differentiated in their outlook, investment appetite and the challenges faced.





RESIZED Venti Views on Unsplash ship vessel

The Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) conducted an industry survey to take stock of shipowners and operators’ progress in establishing six elements needed for the shipping industry to reach net zero, according to BCG on Wednesday (27 September). 

The survey saw strong participation from 128 shipowners and operators across vessel types, fleet sizes and geographies, which collectively own or operate 14,000 merchant vessels, and account for USD500 billion in revenue.

The duo found high decarbonisation ambitions: Most respondents viewed net zero as a strategic priority, and 77% had already set concrete decarbonisation targets. The industry has also mobilised resources to decarbonise: respondents are investing 2% of their revenues into green initiatives, and 87% have personnel working toward green objectives.

The path to net zero for shipowners and operators requires six elements:

  • A robust strategy and roadmap
  • Four specific decarbonisation levers to reduce emissions: operational efficiency, technological efficiency, fuel transition, and shipboard carbon capture
  • Enablers such as dedicated sustainability teams, strategic investments in green initiatives, internal carbon prices, and digitalization

While the industry has made some progress in adopting mature and cost-effective efficiency levers, adoption of complex or nascent levers remains low. Drop-in green fuels are constrained by costs and supply-side gaps, and optimism for future cleaner fuels is yet to translate into firm commitment.

The industry is now at a pivotal point, with many shipowners and operators ramping up their decarbonisation efforts. Three-quarters of respondents plan to increase investments in green initiatives. Stakeholders can build on this momentum with a variety of supportive actions. But to be effective, they need to tailor their interventions to address the specific challenges that shipowners and operators face at each stage of decarbonisation.

Three Decarbonisation Archetypes

GCMD and BCG saw three archetypes, differentiated in their outlook, investment appetite, and the challenges faced.

Frontrunners have the greatest ambitions and are willing to invest heavily. They are pushing boundaries, adopting even nascent decarbonisation levers, such as wind propulsion and air lubrication. A majority plan to pilot shipboard carbon capture solutions by 2025. Frontrunners are also planning to adopt methanol and ammonia as early as 2026 and 2029 respectively, and the availability of fuels and bunkering infrastructure will be critical to enabling adoption.

Followers believe in decarbonising their fleets, but have tighter investment thresholds and a near-term outlook. They have kept pace with Frontrunners in adopting mature and cost-effective efficiency levers, such as main engine improvements and slow steaming, but are behind in the adoption of nascent levers, such as wind propulsion and air lubrication.

Conservatives are still early in their decarbonisation journey, likely due to a lack of awareness and familiarity with the various decarbonisation levers, and the capabilities to assess and deploy them. They are best supported by measures that increase their familiarity with the levers and help contextualise them to their specific fleets and operational requirements.

The research highlights five key actions for stakeholders:

Conduct technical pilots and facilitate data sharing, especially for nascent levers

  • Create innovative financing mechanisms to de-risk adoption of less mature levers
  • Raise awareness, contextualize levers, and build capabilities, especially among Conservatives
  • Start to build out future fuels infrastructure at ports
  • Develop mechanisms to equalize and share the costs of levers across the ecosystem
  • Maritime decarbonization is a complex, critical endeavor. The successful implementation of these five key actions demands a whole-of-value-chain approach. By working together, stakeholders can transform the maritime sector into a beacon of environmental stewardship, and set a course for a greener future where decarbonization and commercial success go hand in hand.

Note: The GCMD-BCG Global Maritime Decarbonisation Survey report can be downloaded here.

Photo credit: Venti Views on Unsplash
Published: 28 September, 2023

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Itochu enters MoU with firms for study of ammonia bunkering safety for container carrier

Through this cooperation, several companies and organisations will come together to discuss and study safety issues during ammonia bunkering of a container carrier that uses ammonia as a bunker fuel.





Itochu enters MoU with firms for study of ammonia bunkering safety for container carrier

Tokyo-based Itochu Corporation on Tuesday (22 September) said it has executed a Memorandum of Understanding for a joint study of ammonia bunkering safety for an ammonia-fuelled container carrier among eight companies and organisations with the aim of implementing the use of ammonia as a bunker fuel in shipping industry. 

Through this cooperation, several companies and organisations will come together to discuss and study safety issues during ammonia bunkering of a container carrier that uses ammonia as a main fuel.

“This MOU for Ammonia Bunkering Safety for Container Carrier is an important milestone for social implementation of the use of ammonia as marine fuel on a global scale, and also a necessary step toward the realisation of the Integrated Project consisting of the construction of a global ammonia supply chain and the development of ammonia-fuelled ships by ITOCHU and its partner companies,” the firm said in a statement. 

A joint study that will be carried out under the MOU is a successive phase of the existing Joint Study Framework launched in 2021 by 34 companies and organizations including ITOCHU and Joint Study Framework for Ammonia Bunkering Safety launched in 2022 by 16 companies and organizations including ITOCHU, and focused on discussion and study of safety issues of ammonia bunkering to ammonia-fueled container carriers among experts from port authorities, container liner operators, bunkering related players and shipping company. 

A key subject of the joint study under this MOU for Ammonia Bunkering Safety for Container Carrier is the safety assessment for simultaneous operations of container cargo operations and ammonia bunkering in a container terminal, which is generally required for container carriers to achieve operational efficiencies.

ITOCHU said it is promoting a development of ammonia-fueled container carriers with potential partners following the development of ammonia-fuelled bulk carrier, which obtained Approval in Principle in 2022. ITOCHU will accelerate the development of an ammonia-fueled container carrier based on findings of this MOU for Ammonia Bunkering Safety for Container Carrier and plans to bring it to the international shipping market in late 2020s.

ITOCHU will accelerate the development of sustainable energy systems through these initiatives and ensure its contributions to the SDGs and improvement of related efforts, one of the basic policies laid out in its new medium-term management plan, as the company pursues a low-carbon society.

The eight companies and organisations are; Algeciras Bay Port Authority, Spain; Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands; CMA CGM, France; A.P.Moller Maersk A/S, Denmark; Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Japan; Pavilion Energy Singapore, Singapore; TotalEnergies Marine Fuels, Singapore; and ITOCHU. 

Related: Itochu-led joint study of ammonia as an alternative marine fuel expands to 34 players
Related: 23 industry players participate in joint study of ammonia as an alternative marine fuel
Related: Singapore: Pavilion Energy, MOL, Total join Itochu and Vopak ammonia bunker fuel study
Related: Spain: Itochu, Peninsula enter MOU for joint development of ammonia bunkering in Gibraltar Strait
Related: Japan: “K” Line, ITOCHU and partners receive ClassNK AiP for ammonia-fuelled bulk carrier

Photo credit: Itochu Corporation
Published: 28 September, 2023

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