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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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Alternative Fuels

WEF: South Africa has great potential as a production and bunkering hub for zero-emission bunker fuels

Report highlighted a clear demand signal for bunkering ZEF in selected South African ports will be needed to realise the country’s opportunity to become a global hotspot for zero-emission shipping.

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WEF: South Africa has great potential as a production and bunkering hub for zero-emission bunker fuels

South Africa has great potential as a production and bunkering hub for zero-emission shipping fuels – but it needs global demand to get the ball rolling, according to a report by the World Economic Forum recently.

The white paper, titled Decarbonising South Africa’s Shipping and Trucking Sectors, presented the findings and recommendations from a First Movers Coalition workshop held in South Africa in March 2024, which focused on decarbonising the country’s shipping and trucking sectors and developing its potential to produce green hydrogen.

The report said more than 200 dual-fuel methanol vessels have been ordered globally, requiring over 20 Mt of e-methanol fuel per annum to achieve 100% zero-emission operability.

However, fuel availability at that scale is expected to be challenged until at least 2030-35. This demand creates an opportunity for South African producers to secure early customers and sign advance offtake agreements, providing certainty for new projects and improving investment prospects.

The study noted that ammonia also brings advantages as a zero-emission fuel (ZEF), such as high carbon-emission savings, unlimited feedstock (nitrogen) availability and existing logistical infrastructure around the globe. 

While ammonia engines will reach the market from 2025 at the earliest, major carriers like Trafigura and BHP are already placing orders for dual-fuel ammonia vessels.

The World Bank has conducted a pre-feasibility study on establishing green shipping fuel value chains at the ports of Boegoebaai and Saldanha Bay. The study identifies ammonia as the preferred ZEF production choice for South Africa, due to the scarcity of biogenic carbon dioxide to produce methanol. 

“Most of the fuel’s cost comes from hydrogen feedstock – but by leveraging abundant wind and solar supply, the two ports will be able to generate renewable electricity at scale to produce competitive green hydrogen for local industry use (e.g. green steel) and to produce green ammonia for export to the global shipping industry,” the report said.

On bunkering, the report stated political disturbance and security risks in the Red Sea during 2023 to 24 forced many shipping operators to abandon the Suez Canal and re-route their cargo around the Cape of Good Hope. 

Even without those risks, operators shipping lower value or less time-critical cargo may use the Cape route rather than the more expensive Suez Canal, adding two weeks to a ship’s voyage time from Asia to Europe.

“This extra travel time – plus the lower density of zero-emission fuels – could compel vessels running on ZEF to bunker in South Africa before reaching Europe,” it said. 

“Access to zero-emission fuels therefore opens up the possibility of South African ports positioning themselves as bunkering hubs to supply passing shipping traffic.”

“Furthermore, the potential for South Africa to produce e-methanol and e-ammonia has triggered plans to develop ‘green corridors’ – effectively routes connecting ports for vessels to sail on ZEF.

However, the report highlighted a clear demand signal for bunkering ZEF in selected South African ports will be needed to realise the country’s opportunity to become a global hotspot for zero-emission shipping.

“As local demand may take some years to build up, certainty from global demand will play a key role. It is also important to assess different uses for hydrogen beyond maritime fuel, to determine how multi-sectoral offtake can improve the business case for potential project developers,” it said.

Note: The full white paper, titled ‘Decarbonising South Africa’s Shipping and Trucking Sectors’, can be viewed here.

 

Photo credit: World Economic Forum
Published: 24 June, 2024

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Biofuel

DB Schenker to ship Avolta cargo between Europe and US with bio bunker fuel

All containers that Avolta will move on the Barcelona – Miami route, using biofuel, will be shipped on low emission through application of waste-based marine biofuels and additional units of sustainable marine biofuel.

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DB Schenker

Travel retailer Avolta recently said it entered an agreement in Spain with logistics service provider DB Schenker for the transport of goods using marine biofuel between Europe and the United States.

From now on, all containers that Avolta will move on the Barcelona - Miami route, using biofuel, will be shipped on low emission through the application of waste-based marine biofuels and additional units of sustainable marine biofuel, to achieve additional compensation of the biofuel’s upstream emissions.

“This biofuel switch could prevent over 150 tons of CO2e Well-to-Wake emissions per year, based on Avolta’s 2023 container volume on this route, reducing up to 84% of the CO2 emissions,” the firm said.

The fuel used is Used Cooking oil methyl ester (UCOME) and is based on renewable and sustainable sources, mainly waste cooking oil. 

The application will be guided by the Book & Claim System, a set of principles that have been developed through a global, multi-stakeholder process with third-party validation to ensure that the use of this chain of custody model has full traceability and credibility, as well as a demonstrable climate impact.

Camillo Rossotto, Chief Public Affairs & ESG Officer Avolta, said: “We are taking a significant step forward towards decarbonising our shipments and route transportations.”

“This agreement represents the starting point of the transitioning to biofuel for ocean freight which will contribute to decarbonising our logistic emission. Our company's commitment to sustainability is firm and long-term and, as proof of this, we are planning to increase the volume of containers transported using biofuel, advancing in the sustainable and low-emission transportation industry."

Miguel Ángel de la Torre, director of maritime transport at DB Schenker in Iberia, said: "Our mission is to help, facilitate, and guide our customers in the sustainable transformation, and on this occasion, we are doing so by offering this biofuel so that they can convert their freight transport into low-emission transport.”

“In this way, our customer Avolta is not only pioneering and helping to reduce emissions but is also ahead of the new regulations and associated benefits that will be tightened in the coming years.”

 

Photo credit: DB Schenker
Published: 24 June, 2024

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LNG Bunkering

MAN Energy Solutions rejoins SEA-LNG coalition

‘MAN ES, alongside other members of the SEA-LNG coalition, are making great strides in tackling methane slip in engine technologies where it still exists,’ says Peter Keller, SEA-LNG chairman.

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MAN Energy Solutions rejoins SEA-LNG

Global multi-sector industry coalition SEA LNG on Thursday (20 June) announced that MAN Energy Solutions (MAN ES) will rejoin its coalition.  

As a provider of flexible and powerful propulsion solutions for LNG marine applications, SEA LNG said MAN ES caters to the growing demands of the shipping industry for LNG propulsion and equipment across dual fuel LNG-powered ships, LNG carriers, FRSUs, LNG feeder and bunker vessels, as well as for gas supply infrastructure. All MAN ES technology is fully compatible with net-zero biomethane and e-methane.

“MAN ES’s technical expertise adds to the technical skills and experience of SEA-LNG members, already achieving reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. MAN ES’s two-stroke high-pressure engine technology is one of those delivering virtually no methane slip in the LNG combustion process today,” it said.

In addition, MAN ES is making significant progress in eradicating methane slip in its four-stroke engines. Over the last ten years, MAN ES has already been able to halve methane slip in its four-stroke gas engines and is aiming for a further 20% reduction by continuously improving the combustion process.

MAN ES's IMOKAT II project has secured investment from the German Federal Ministry for Economics and Climate Action to develop an after-treatment technology to further reduce methane slip from its four-stroke engines, ultimately aiming for a 70% reduction of methane emissions at 100% load.  

Stefan Eefting, Senior Vice President and Head of MAN PrimeServ Germany at MAN Energy Solutions, said: “While shipping remains the most environmentally-friendly form of transport, the many vessels powered by our technology means that MAN Energy Solutions has a special responsibility to help move the industry to net-zero; we are very happy to work with like-minded partners in achieving this.”

“Our unique ability to assess the future-fuel mix is, in great part, based on our dual-fuel engine development, which promotes LNG and other alternative green fuels that have a key role to play on the path to decarbonisation.” 

Peter Keller, SEA-LNG chairman, said: “The shipping industry’s decarbonisation drive is at a tipping point as global and regional regulations begin to impact shipowners financially.”

“As these regulatory changes continue to be felt, LNG as a marine fuel, and its decarbonisation pathway through liquified biomethane and e-methane, offers the most practical and realistic solution. The LNG solution is playing a critical role in enabling emissions reductions, starting today.”

“If we want to continue to unlock this pathway’s potential, we need the right expertise and MAN ES’s experience and insights will be critical to ensuring LNG, biomethane and e-methane firmly take their place in the basket of alternative marine fuels.”

Keller continued: “We are proud to represent the entire LNG value chain, and the addition of MAN ES only adds to our roster of industry-leading first movers to promote the LNG pathway. In particular, MAN ES, alongside other members of the SEA-LNG coalition, are making great strides in tackling methane slip in engine technologies where it still exists. With constant advances in technology, we are confident the issue of methane slip can be solved within this decade.” 

 

Photo credit: MAN Energy Solutions
Published: 24 June, 2024

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