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SIBCON 2022 Interview: Eaglestar discusses challenges and possible solutions in embracing ammonia as a bunker fuel

Ammonia availability, bunkering facilities, storage, and transhipment are the key challenges in the ammonia bunkering supply chain, shares Capt. Peter Liew, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Eaglestar.

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The following interview with Capt. Peter Liew, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Eaglestar, is part of coverage for the upcoming Singapore International Bunkering Conference and Exhibition (SIBCON) 2022, where Manifold Times is an official media partner. Eaglestar is a world-class provider of global integrated marine services and a member company of the MISC Group.

Capt. Peter Liew gives his take on how shipowners can decide between the types of alternative fuel solutions for their new and existing assets and elaborates on MISC Group’s roadmap to adopting ammonia as a bunker fuel. He also shares challenges the shipping industry will face in embracing ammonia as a marine fuel with possible solutions to overcome them.

MT: What is MISC’s view and roadmap on the adoption of ammonia as a bunker fuel?

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MISC is supportive of the various alternative fuels and technology that will help us to achieve our net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions commitments by 2050. We have revised our baseline year to 2008 to align with the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) 2030 and IMO 2050 targets.

MISC believes that ammonia is one of the viable pathways to support decarbonisation in the maritime industry, in line with the IMO’s 2050 goals. We also believe that collaboration is vital to support the overall agenda of decarbonising the maritime industry. It is important for the leaders and industry players to continue engaging and exploring together the opportunities that are arising and how the risks related to new fuel adoption can be managed through collaborations.

MISC is a proud partner of The Castor Initiative, a multi-stakeholder global coalition that is committed to jointly developing commercially viable deep-sea zero-emission vessels (ZEV) fuelled by ammonia by 2030 in line with the IMO’s GHG aspirations.

Moving forward, MISC Group will progressively renew its fleet to high-efficiency dual-fuel engine vessels from now to 2030. The Group will also execute continuous operational efficiency improvements with the aim of reducing the energy consumed on voyages as well as implement strategies to optimise the technical and operational efficiencies of our vessels. MISC expects to progressively change its fleet to ZEV from 2031 as part of its net-zero GHG emissions commitment by 2050.

Road Map

MISC believes that our pathways towards decarbonisation by 2050 will be achieved by simultaneously executing our short and medium term goals together.

Our transition plan between 2021 to 2030, is to progressively renew our fleet with high- efficiency, dual-fuel vessels, in addition to promoting advanced technologies that minimises emissions from our vessels. To complement our efforts as a member of The Castor Initiative, the MISC Group is committed to developing zero-carbon emission vessels with our strategic partners.

In the long term, starting 2031 (if not sooner) until 2050, we will progressively undergo a fleet renewal to zero-carbon emission vessels. We will also focus on continuous operational efficiency improvements by adopting new technological innovations on existing and new builds to continuously improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

For carbon removal technology which depends on its viability, we aim to adopt carbon capture retrofits in our existing newer vessels to remove excess carbon emissions. Carbon offset is one of the key building blocks in MISC’s net-zero GHG emissions commitments by 2050 to compensate for residual emissions not possible to be abated.

MT: As ship/crew/technical manager, how does Eaglestar support in achieving MISC’s decarbonisation goal?

Eaglestar plays a pivotal role in supporting MISC Group’s decarbonisation journey in terms of developing our global maritime workforce, and our subject matter experts are capable of addressing the spectrum of technical and operational challenges that confront the introduction of alternative fuels. Our collective wealth of expertise coupled in ship management puts us at the forefront of executing MISC Group’s decarbonisation goals.

Eaglestar provides a comprehensive range of integrated marine services and delivers a suite of solutions ranging from fleet management and operations and maintenance (O&M) to crew management and manning services, dry-docking management as well as project management services for newbuild construction, conversion projects and vessel repair life extension for internal and external customers.

We operate and maintain a modern and diversified fleet of vessels including LNG carriers (conventional steam and DFDE), Ethane carriers, LNG Bunkering Vessel (LBV), Crude Oil carriers, Dynamic Positioning shuttle tankers (DP2 standard), Product/Chemical vessels (Type II), LNG Floating Storage Units (FSUs), Marine Containment Vessels and Petroleum tankers(Aframax) propelled by LNG dual fuel engines (LNG and Fuel Oil) supported by a team of highly skilled, competent and dedicated professionals. Our Centre of Excellence leverages upon the combined resources and experience of more than 60 years as proven by our excellent HSE performance in the shipping industry, enabling us to better serve key vessel segments in various markets and to achieve short-medium and long-term decarbonisation goals.

Eaglestar’s advantage as one of the earliest ship managers of LNG and dual-fuel vessels within the maritime industry, enables us to play a vital role to support this aspiration by contributing our extensive knowledge and capabilities in technological solutions and maritime talents. We have embarked on the initiatives to fortify our human capital and people capabilities to support MISC Group as well as The Castor Initiative’s aspirations which will ultimately contribute to the maritime industry’s decarbonisation goals.

MT: Which types of vessels will be ideal candidates to consume as ammonia as a bunker fuel and why?

In our opinion, any vessel can be the ideal candidate to consume Ammonia as fuel. In deciding the types or alternative fuel solutions for its new and existing assets, a ship owner should take the following matters, among others, into consideration.

  1. The readiness/maturity of the specific fuel technology.
  2. The containment system requirements for safe storage and bunkering arrangements.
  3. The fuel availability and bunkering infrastructure, and trading routes.
  4. The people’s capability for the safe operation and handling of toxic substances.
  5. The required rules and regulations to meet industrial strict safety and technical standards requirements.

It is undeniable that there may be potential risks that are associated with new fuel technologies. Hence collaboration and sharing of those risks among all industry players along the value chain are imperative. However, building a new vessel without an alternative fuel solution, in our opinion, is careless and irresponsible.

MT: What kinds of challenges will the shipping industry face when embracing ammonia as a bunker fuel? What are the solutions?

Ammonia, in its natural form, as we all know, is a toxic substance, and the challenge is in ensuring that the fuel can be transported, stored, and consumed safely. Our seafarers must be trained and equipped with the skills and knowledge required to handle ammonia in the safest manner. Existing international rules, regulations, and controls need to address these specific risks.

Ammonia as a fuel is a new technology, thus it has technical and operational challenges. Hence it is imperative, that time should be given to develop this technology without pressure, and it is equally important for all parties who are involved in the development of this technology to work together rather than against each other.

The availability of ammonia as fuel and its pricing in relation to conventional fuel are challenges that need to be addressed. It is crucial to have the commitment from fuel suppliers to make the fuel available at the right location and quantity. The price disparity between ammonia and conventional fuel, if not properly addressed, could potentially derail the commercialisation of ammonia as bunker fuel. Hence, it is imperative to level the playing field by instituting a global carbon tax or carbon levy to make ammonia a viable fuel.

In summary, it is true, like any other fuel technology; ammonia fuel technology confronts multiple challenges. Consequently, it is vital that all industry players and stakeholders along the value chain (regulators, policymakers, authorities, shipyards, classification society, engine manufacturers, ammonia producers, facility providers, charterers, and financiers/bankers) collaborate to overcome these challenges and equally share the risks associated with this fuel technology.

MT: What changes will the bunkering industry need to undergo in order to support shipping’s switch to ammonia bunkers?

Ammonia availability, bunkering facilities, storage, and transhipment are the key challenges in the bunkering supply chain. With the currently established global grid of ammonia terminals and storage, a similar bunkering grid could be established quickly and cost-efficiently by converting small gas tanker vessels to bunker barges. In the long-term, marine bunkering infrastructures should include bunkering from both bunker ships and onshore storage. Ramping up production is required to meet at least 30% of marine fuel demand in 2050, which is around 150 million tons/year.

Special considerations should be made to risk assessment measures to prevent accidents. This would take into consideration the probability of leakage, gas detection systems, and certification along the supply chain. Also, the development of new regulations and rules are needed and could very much be extended and fortified from existing rules. The bunkering operation itself would be very similar to when bunkering other gaseous fuels, except the main hazard would be the fuel toxicity rather than flammability, and the procedures for ammonia bunker barges need to be developed. It is crucial to develop the people’s capabilities to trans-ship and handle ammonia as bunker fuel, safely and effectively.

For certification and traceability, while traditional fuels have a wide and complex range of properties, ammonia is a clean fuel consisting of only one compound, which eliminates all variations between types and qualities, thereby greatly simplifying fuel sourcing, qualification and analysis.

MT: Is the ammonia bunker fuel future nearby, or still far away?

It depends on how one perceives what is near or far away. Currently, ammonia in many ways, in

our opinion, is relatively the most matured and viable zero-carbon fuel technology solution. There are many various active industry initiatives that are currently and seriously pursuing ammonia as bunker fuel.

Decisive and affirmative government actions and investment commitment are fervently needed to scale up the use of ammonia as bunker fuel. The Castor Initiative is one of the advance groups of like-minded industry stakeholder collaboration that is currently pursuing to deliver a dual fuel ammonia vessel in 2025/26.

A list of other interviews conducted by Singapore bunkering publication Manifold Times on occasion of SIBCON 2022 are as follows:

Related: SIBCON 2022 Interview: Digitalisation in bunkering ops, can lower costs and enable decarbonisation, says StormGeo
Related: SIBCON 2022 Interview: Co-Convenors offer insights into Singapore’s upcoming Digital Bunker Document Standard
Related: SIBCON 2022 Interview: MFMs relevant for custody transfer of future liquid-based marine fuels, confirms Endress+Hauser
Related: SIBCON 2022 Interview: Clyde & Co discusses handling of bunker fuel quality disputes, alt fuels contracts
Related: SIBCON 2022 Interview: Singapore Bunkering TC Chairman shares republic’s direction on future marine fuels

 

Photo credit: Eaglestar
Published: 11 October, 2022

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Championing environmental stewardship: DNV partners Anglo American for vessel electrification feasibility study

Study revealed the potential transformation of Anglo American supported- Waterways Watch Society’s petrol-powered boats into battery electric vessels, aligning with their mission to safeguard waterways in Singapore.

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Classification society DNV recently sat down with global mining company and shipowner Anglo American to discuss their joint high-level vessel electrification feasibility study in the first episode of DNV’s Decarbonization Insights series.

In this session, DNV executed a feasibility study of battery electric boat operations for Waterways Watch Society (WWS), a non-profit organization supported by Anglo American.

The study revealed the potential transformation of WWS’ petrol-powered boats into cutting-edge battery electric vessels, aligning with their mission to safeguard waterways in Singapore.

Currently, there are six workboats powered by petrol at Waterways Watch Society, used/deployed for educational purposes, including collecting litter around Singapore’s waters.

The scope of work included technical assessment and commercial study on the electrification solutions.

Anesan Naidoo, Head of Sustainability at Anglo American, discussed how the innovative collaboration emphasizes their dedication to corporate responsibility, while DNV experts shared their perspectives on how vessel electrification is reshaping the landscape of maritime decarbonization in Singapore and the wider region.

Watch a trailer of the first episode of DNV’s Decarbonization Insights featuring Anglo American on DNV’s official YouTube Channel here.

 

Photo credit: DNV
Published: 15 April 2024

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Events

18th Singapore Maritime Week opens with ‘Actions meet Ambition’ theme

MPA will be making several announcements related to developments on low- emission maritime energy transition technologies, maritime artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and manpower, over the five-day event.

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18th Singapore Maritime Week opens with ‘Actions meet Ambition’ theme

The Singapore Maritime Week (SMW), organised by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), returned in its 18th edition with more than 50 events from 15 to 19 April 2024 at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Themed ‘Actions meet Ambition’, MPA said SMW is organised around four pillars - decarbonisation, digitalisation, services, and talent development. More than 10,000 maritime professionals from close to 40 countries, including delegates from governments, port authorities, international organisations, as well as industry experts and thought leaders are expected to attend SMW. 

In addition, the inaugural Expo@SMW trade exhibition, taking place from 16 to 18 April 2024 as part of SMW 2024, will showcase maritime solutions by close to 50 companies and startups.

SMW 2024 was launched by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Singapore’s Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Finance. Speaking at the Opening Ceremony, Mr Chee highlighted that Maritime Singapore has continued to grow year-on-year – a mark of the industry’s vote of confidence in Singapore, and the strong tripartite relationship between business, workers, and the government. 

Looking forward, Mr Chee said that Singapore aims to be a global hub for innovation, reliable and resilient maritime operations, and maritime talent, to better serve the current and future needs of our stakeholders and allow Singapore to contribute to global development and sustainability goals effectively.

A maritime dialogue was held on the topic of Supply Chain Resilience, Digitalisation and Decarbonisation. The panel, comprising Dr Volker Wissing, Federal Minister for Digital Affairs and Transport, Germany, Mr Even Tronstad Sagebakken, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, Norway, and Mr Francis Zachariae, Secretary-General, International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) was moderated by Professor Simon Tay, Chairman, Singapore Institute of International Affairs. 

The panel discussed the challenges the maritime sector faces when dealing with these changes and disruptions, the efforts and measures undertaken by them to prepare the maritime industry and its workforce, and the potential for various stakeholders to work together to address these challenges and capture new opportunities.

Other participants of SMW 2024 include Mr Arsenio Dominguez, Secretary- General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO); and Mr Sergio Mujica, Secretary-General of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Speaking at his first maritime event in Singapore since his appointment as the Secretary-General of the IMO in January 2024, Mr Dominguez delivered a keynote speech at the Singapore Maritime Lecture that was moderated by Ambassador Mary Seet-Cheng, Singapore’s Non-Resident High Commissioner to the Republic of Fiji and Non-Resident Ambassador to the Pacific Islands Forum.

Secretary-General Dominguez emphasised the importance of ensuring seafarer safety and wellbeing, particularly in the light of geopolitical changes impacting shipping, and highlighted his vision for IMO to flourish as a transparent, inclusive, diverse institution. 

He also noted the rapid green and digital transition unfolding in the maritime sector, driven by the targets set by IMO Member States in the IMO 2023 GHG Strategy. 

Mr. Dominguez said: “IMO is on track to adopt mid-term measures by late 2025 to cut GHG emissions, to reach net zero targets. Alongside this regulatory work, there is a need to consider issues such as safety, pricing, infrastructural availability to deliver new fuels, lifecycle emissions, supply chain constraints, barriers to adoption and more.”

“Seafarers will require training to be able to operate new technologies as well as zero or near-zero emission powered vessels safely.”

“We need ‘early movers’ in the industry as well as forward-looking policy makers to take the necessary risks and secure the right investments that will stimulate long-term solutions for the sector. In this regard, we welcome the efforts being undertaken by Singapore to facilitate collaboration among maritime stakeholders, including the MPA-led Maritime Energy Training Facility.”

SMW 2024 will also bring together MPA’s Green and Digital Shipping Corridor (GDSC) partners, namely Australia, six ports in Japan, Port of Los Angeles, Port of Long Beach, Port of Rotterdam, and Tianjin, to discuss GDSC initiatives to support IMO’s Greenhouse Gases (GHG) emission reduction targets for international shipping.

These include the development and uptake of zero or near-zero GHG emission fuels at scale along corridor routes, technologies to accelerate decarbonisation, collaboration to enhance operational and digital efficiencies, as well as updates on key milestones achieved for the Singapore and Port of Rotterdam and the Singapore and Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach GDSCs.

MPA will ink several partnerships and agreements with more than 30 partners during SMW 2024 in areas such as training and cybersecurity. These partners comprise international organisations, foreign governments and agencies, classification societies, maritime partners, institutes of higher learning, tech companies, trade associations, and unions. 

MPA will also be making several announcements related to developments on low- emission maritime energy transition technologies, maritime artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and manpower, over the five-day event.

MPA and 22 partners , including the leading global marine engine manufacturers, today also signed a Letter of Intent to establish the Maritime Energy Training Facility (METF). The METF, supported by the tripartite maritime community in Singapore, aims to close the skills and competencies gap for the safe operation of new zero or near-zero emission-powered vessels.

 

Photo credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 15 April 2024

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Alternative Fuels

MPA to set up facility for maritime workforce to train in handling new bunker fuels

Facility will be anchored by new dual-fuel marine engine simulator for training on safe handling, bunkering and management of incidents involving the use of alternative marine fuels such as methanol.

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MPA to set up facility for maritime workforce to train in handling new bunker fuels

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) on Monday (15 April) said it will establish an industry-supported facility to address the current competencies gap by training the global maritime workforce in handling and operating vessels using clean marine fuels. 

MPA said there is a need for more maritime personnel and seafarers to be trained and equipped to operate these ships safely and efficiently as the number of ships operating on zero or near-zero emission fuels grows. 

With hundreds of crew changes conducted daily here, Singapore’s Maritime Energy Training Facility (METF) is well placed to support the training of international seafarers. Ship owners and operators can expect time and training cost savings by tapping on METF’s training facilities. 

Around 10,000 seafarers and other maritime personnel are expected to be trained at METF from now to the 2030s, as the facilities are progressively developed by 2026.

The Letter of Intent to establish METF was signed by MPA and 22 partners comprising global marine engine manufacturers, international organisations, classification societies, trade associations, unions, and institutes of higher learning, at the SMW 2024 opening ceremony. 

The setting up of METF follows from recommendations put forth by the Tripartite Advisory Panel, formed in early 2023 by SMF and supported by MPA, to identify emerging and future skills and competencies to build for the maritime workforce.

METF will be established as a decentralised network of training facilities in Singapore. It will be anchored by a new dual-fuel marine engine simulator for training on the safe handling, bunkering and management of incidents involving the use of alternative fuels, such as methanol and ammonia. 

Other training facilities supporting METF include the integrated engine room and bridge simulator by the Singapore Maritime Academy (SMA) at Singapore Polytechnic (SP), as well as the bridge and engine simulator at Wavelink Maritime Institute (WMI)2 for crew resource management training. 

For emergency response training, METF is supported by gas and fire safety training facilities at Poly Marina operated by the SMA, as well as AR-enabled scenario- based training developed by SP’s Centre of Excellence in Maritime Safety.

METF will also tap various partners’ assets and training technologies to upskill the global maritime workforce, including seafarers, on the operations, bunkering and management of zero or near-zero emission-powered vessels. New training courses and curriculum will be developed by METF’s partners, and progressively rolled out from this year.

MPA also aims to support and contribute to the work of the Maritime Just Transition Task Force (MJTTF) as one of the institutions rolling out the Baseline Training Framework for Seafarers in Decarbonization – which is under development – through METF. 

This will directly contribute to the joint International Maritime Organization (IMO)–MJTTF work to develop training provisions for seafarers in support of decarbonisation of shipping, and complements the IMO's ongoing comprehensive review of the International Convention and Code on Standards of

Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). Singapore is currently chairing the IMO Working Group on the comprehensive review of the STCW Convention and Code, established in 2023 under the Sub-Committee on Human Element, Training and Watchkeeping.

As part of the METF curriculum, SMA has launched one of the Asia Pacific’s first training courses focused on handling methanol as fuel for ships. The training course, accredited by MPA, covers operational and safety protocols during methanol fuelling developed by MPA following the first ship-to-containership methanol bunkering operation conducted in Singapore in July 2023. 

The course also includes a methanol firefighting practical component covering both shipboard and terminal fires. SMA currently offers two sessions of the Basic and Advanced courses every month, with plans to scale up based on the industry’s demands. The course will be open to all maritime personnel and seafarers starting in April 2024.

With strong demand signalled by the industry for such common training facilities, METF is expected to catalyse investments by the industry to develop other training facilities and solutions in Singapore to tap into this growth area. MAN Energy Solutions, one of the leading global engine makers of alternative-fuel engines, recently opened a new mixed-purpose facility. 

The facility includes a new MAN PrimeServ5 training academy for customers and employees on the safe operation, maintenance, and troubleshooting of all MAN Energy Solutions equipment. METF is also expected to benefit corporate training academies set up by shipping companies, such as those from Eastern Pacific Shipping, to train their global seafaring crew and shore-based personnel.

The MPA – SMF Joint Office for Talent and Skills (Joint Office) was established in March 2024 to coordinate and drive the tripartite efforts by the government, industry, and unions to upskill the Maritime Singapore workforce across shore-based and seafaring jobs and to ensure Singapore continues to have access to a diversity of maritime talents and experts.

To provide workers with greater flexibility in the acquisition of new skills, the Joint Office will work with IHLs and industry to review and progressively convert relevant short-term courses, or on-the-job training into accredited competency-based micro-credentials. These will focus on emerging skills such as maritime cybersecurity, digitalisation, and sustainability. 

The micro-credentials could potentially be stacked towards formal or industry-recognised qualifications and to fill the gap in quality and flexible upskilling or reskilling opportunities for working adults while they remain in full employment. The Joint Office plans to expand the micro-credential pathway, allowing recognition of more courses and workplace learning as micro-credentials over time.

Related: Singapore bunkering sector enters milestone with first methanol marine refuelling op

 

Photo credit: Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Published: 15 April 2024

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