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SIBCON 2022 Interview: ExxonMobil to invest more than USD $15bn on GHG reduction initiatives by 2027

Haur-Bin Chua, Regional Commercial Fuels Sales Director, Marine, ExxonMobil Asia Pacific, discusses market dynamics, the adoption of MFM technology, and digitalisation of the bunkering value chain with Manifold Times.

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Haur Bin Chua

The following interview with Haur-Bin Chua, Regional Commercial Fuels Sales Director, Marine, ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Pte Ltd, is part of coverage for Singapore International Bunkering Conference and Exhibition (SIBCON) 2022, where Manifold Times is an official media partner.

MT: As an oil major capable of producing its own VLSFO, how has market dynamics changed for the company in Singapore after the introduction of major trading houses as bunker suppliers at the republic over the past few years?

At a macro level, the introduction of more bunker suppliers in Singapore promotes competition and innovation. This further improves Singapore status as a major regional bunkering and trading hub.

Furthermore, the increase in the number of suppliers also provides more choice to customers. Different suppliers have different areas of focus, and it is fundamentally important for fuel purchasers to know their suppliers. ExxonMobil’s focus as a responsible producer and supplier is to ensure that our fuels not only meet the IMO Sulphur mandate and ISO 8217-2017 standards, but also pass rigorous fit-for-use assessments for reliability and performance. We formulate our fuels with proprietary patented technology that helps identify and mitigate potential compatibility issues during the development process.

MT: ExxonMobil chartered the first MFM-equipped bunker tankers “Emissary” and “Jewel” during trials at the Republic and seems to be a supporter of MFM bunkering operations; does the firm have any plans to expand the use of MFM technology for bunkering operations to other parts of the world?

When it comes to marine fuel bunkering, having accurate and transparent data translates to cost benefits for our customers. It also allows vessel operators peace of mind when receiving bunker supply through MFM system.

We are very proud to be one of the pioneers for the MFM system. ExxonMobil was the first company to:

  • Market with a port authority approved MFM system
  • Guarantee delivery by a MFM system in Singapore
  • Deliver more than 1 million tons via MFM system
  • Launch an independently accredited MFM system in Hong Kong

Beyond Singapore where MFM is mandated, ExxonMobil has MFM implemented onboard its bunkering barges in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) ports as well as in France and Hong Kong.

MT: Digitalisation has been gaining pace around the world. The marine industry, including the bunkering sector, has been slow to pick it up. With data from MFM measurements already being digital, how should the bunkering industry should move towards digitalisation and transparency?

With digitalisation, there is value in exchanging data within an ecosystem to capture efficiencies and improve supply chain visibility. In Singapore, SGTradex was created as a result of Singapore Together Alliance for Action (AfA) on supply chain digitalisation. ExxonMobil is one of the participants working with the taskforce to explore ways to integrate disparate data into one supply chain common data infrastructure.

MT: What is ExxonMobil’s direction for alternative bunker fuels? Have any trends been spotted?

For the maritime industry, alternative low carbon options may co-exist in a multi-fuels future to address the specific needs of different shipping subsectors. Each of these options may present their own commercial and operational challenges, but to be successful, they will need to be safe, scalable, reliable, and viable.

In the near term, biofuels are an engine-ready alternative that can be used in existing engines without the need for extensive modifications. These biofuels have the potential to reduce GHG emissions by at least one-third compared with conventional marine fuel oil. ExxonMobil is already supplying marine biofuel in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) region and recently, we have successfully completed a commercial bio-based marine fuel oil bunkering in the port of Singapore.

On the longer term, from Well-to-Wake basis, methanol, ammonia and hydrogen are promising alternatives to reduce the carbon footprint of shipping. However, one of their challenges is their lower energy content and the comparatively lower amount of energy they can store in the tanks of a ship. Ship designs would require changes to accommodate fuel containment and gas-supply systems or frequent bunkering.

To accelerate the deployment of these alternative bunker fuels in this hard to decarbonise marine sector, the right regulatory policies have to be in place. ExxonMobil advocates for a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) to provide a predictable long-term pathway of reductions in carbon intensity (CI) of the fuel pool to support the IMO’s ambition of reducing GHG emissions from shipping. To enable this, policy should include the following attributes:

  • Set declining annual targets for the Well-to-Wake CI of the consumed marine fuels expressed in gCO2equivalent/MJ
  • Be technology neutral to encourage multiple pathways and innovation
  • Provide flexibility to manage investments in the fleets and the growth of lower GHG emission emerging technologies and energy
  • Support lower-carbon fuels, as the life cycle assessment approach helps to provide an effective tool for comparing alternative fuels
  • Include reporting of the fuel CI on the Bunker Delivery Notes
  • In case of non-compliance, a pre-determined buy-out could provide revenues to a global fund dedicated to the marine sector

As a major marine fuel supplier, ExxonMobil supports the International Maritime Organization (IMO) with a plan to be part of the solution. To provide solutions in the multi-fuels future, we are investigating several potentially viable alternatives to conventional fuel formulations including biofuels, hydrogen, methanol and ammonia. By 2027 we plan to invest more than $15bn on initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our commitment to driving emission reductions in support of a net-zero future is outlined in our Advancing Climate Solutions – 2022 Progress Report.

 

Photo credit: ExxonMobil
Published: 12 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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