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SIBCON 2022 Interview: Singapore Bunkering TC Chairman shares republic’s direction on future marine fuels

Current ISO 8217 bunker fuel standard not comprehensive enough for biofuels; National Mirror Committee working with local players to develop more comprehensive biofuels standard for Singapore, says Capt. Rahul.




Rahul main photo

The following interview with Capt. Rahul Choudhuri, Chairman of Singapore Technical Committee for Bunkering, is part of coverage for the upcoming Singapore International Bunkering Conference and Exhibition (SIBCON) 2022, where Manifold Times is an official media partner.  

Capt. Rahul discusses the following: 

  • The committee’s strategy in preparing the local marine fuels industry for IMO 2030
  • How future bunker fuels could affect bunker surveyors 
  • Singapore’s latest bunker fuel contamination incidents and 
  • Development plans for a local biofuel bunker standard

MT: How is the Singapore Technical Committee for Bunkering and its related government entities preparing the local marine fuels industry for IMO 2030?

The Singapore Technical Committee falls under the purview of the Singapore Standards Council and is managed by the Singapore Development Organisation at SCIC. The intention is to develop national standards that continue to raise industry awareness, productivity and of course fulfil our regulator’s requirements. 

The successful implementation of the SS:648 (Code of practice for bunker mass flow metering) is a good case in point where it has not only supported the local industry in modernising and building a competitive advantage for Singapore as a bunkering hub, but also help elevate global standards through the formation of an international standard ISO 22192 (Bunkering of marine fuel using mass flow meter) which took place last year.

In terms of getting ready for sustainable fuel development, the National Mirror Committee has been working hard in getting an interim biofuel standard ready. The work in developing a code of practice for ammonia and methanol bunkering has already started but this will take time.

MT: Future marine fuels could include material which are poisonous when exposed [ammonia] or super chilled [LNG]; how will this affect traditional bunker surveyor operations, such as drip sampling and tank gauging? Do you think bunker surveyors will still be needed in the future?

I think we are seeing early days still in terms of use of such new fuels. Their present use in mainstream shipping is fairly limited. The Global Centre of Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) has embarked on an extensive study on the safety criteria for ammonia bunkering which will include sampling & quality parameters. We should wait for these findings.

The bunker surveyor’s role needs to adapt to these changes and this can mean a greater level of knowledge building. However, the primary role of the surveyor to ‘trust but verify’ still remains a fundamental that will not be changed.

MT: Do you think marine fuel quality off-spec issues, this time involving alternative bunkers such as biofuels, methanol, LNG, ammonia and hydrogen, will still take place in the future? Why?

Alternative fuels such as biofuels have different quality characteristics that will need careful consideration and effective fuel management. For example, the FAME content of biofuels will define their energy value so knowing what this is accurately will be critical. Another criteria will be the evaluation of storage considerations for such biofuels as they may degrade, in which case knowing more about their stability characteristics will be important. 

MT: Is the current ISO 8217 bunker fuel standard comprehensive enough for biofuels, which is seen by many shipowners as the easiest way to meet IMO 2030 targets? Any areas which you will like to see improvement?

No, I don’t think so. This may be because many other areas are under review in the ISO 8217 and so sufficient attention has not been given to the use and management of biofuels. It is for this reason that the National Mirror Committee (under the Technical Committee for Bunkering) has taken the task to develop a more comprehensive standard for biofuels in Singapore.

MT: What lessons have Singapore taken from the bunker contamination incidents earlier this year? What measures have the government introduced to make sure such an event never happens again at the world’s biggest bunkering port? 

Apart from all the extensive work done by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), the industry will be aware a new Expert Group has been set up together with the Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) to look more closely at this contamination incident and what further control measures can be set. We should not underestimate the seriousness of the intention here.

At the Standards level, the SS:524 (Specification for quality management for bunker supply chain) has been revised with the intention to put greater leadership commitment and risk management in the supply chain. 

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: Singapore Technical Committee for Bunkering
Published: 28 September, 2022

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Alternative Fuels

IUMI: How can liability and compensation regimes adapt to alternative bunker fuels and cargoes?

Existing international liability and compensation regimes do not fully cater to the changes that the use of alternative marine fuels will bring.





Dangerous cargo

By Tim Howse, Member of the IUMI Legal & Liability Committee and Vice President, Head of Industry Liaison, Gard (UK) Limited

The world economy is transitioning, with industries across the board seeking to reduce their carbon footprint and embrace more sustainable practices. As part of this, there is a huge effort within our industry to look to decarbonise, using alternative fuels such as biofuel, LNG, LPG, ammonia, methanol, and hydrogen.

Until now there has been much focus on carbon emissions and operational risks associated with the use of alternative fuels. This includes increased explosivity, flammability, and corrosivity. An ammonia leak causing an explosion in port could result in personal injuries, not to mention property damage, air, and sea pollution. In addition, alternative fuels may not be compatible with existing onboard systems, increasing the risk of breakdowns and fuel loss resulting in pollution. Apart from these safety concerns, which particularly concern crew, air pollution and other environmental impacts need to be addressed.

However, the green transition also presents us with a separate regulatory challenge, which has received less attention so far. So, whilst carbon emissions and safety concerns are rightly on top of the agenda now, the industry also needs to prioritise the potential barriers in the legal and regulatory frameworks which will come sharply into focus if there is an accident.

If anything, historic maritime disasters like the Torrey Canyon spill in 1967, have taught us that we should look at liability and compensation regimes early and with a degree of realism to ensure society is not caught off-guard. With our combined experience, this is perhaps where the insurance industry can really contribute to the transition.

Currently, existing international liability and compensation regimes do not fully cater to the changes that the use of alternative fuels will bring. For example, an ammonia fuel spill would not fall under the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (Bunkers Convention), potentially resulting in a non-uniform approach to jurisdiction and liability. Similarly, an ammonia cargo incident would not fall under the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage (CLC). Uncertainties may also exist in the carriage of CO2 as part of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects, which may be treated as a pollutant, with corresponding penalties or fines.

A multitude of questions will arise depending on what happens, where it happens, and the values involved, many of which may end up as barriers for would be claimants. How will such claims be regulated, will there be scope for limitation of liability, and would there be a right of direct action against the insurers? In the absence of a uniform international liability, compensation and limitation framework, shipowners, managers, charterers, individual crew, and the insurers may be at the mercy of local actions. Increased concerns about seafarer criminalisation (even where international conventions exist, ‘wrongful’ criminalisation does still occur) may emerge, creating another disincentive to go to sea.

When being carried as a cargo, the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea (HNS), which is not yet in force, may resolve some of these issues for alternative fuels and CO2. However, until HNS comes into force, there will be no international uniformity to liability and compensation for the carriage of alternative fuels and CO2 as cargoes. This creates uncertainties for potential victims and their insurers, who may face increased risks and costs, due to the potential inability of existing regulations to provide protections.

The situation is even less clear in the case of bunkers. The rules for using alternative fuels as bunkers might require a separate protocol to HNS, a protocol to the Bunkers Convention, or a whole new convention specifically for alternative fuels.  Relevant considerations for the appropriate legislative vehicle include states’ preparedness to reopen the Bunkers Convention, the ability to conclude a protocol to HNS before it comes into force, and whether a multi-tier fund structure is needed for alternative fuels as bunkers (perhaps unnecessary because bunkers are usually carried in smaller quantities compared to cargoes).

Until then, what we are left with are the existing international protective funds, designed to respond at the highest levels to pollution claims resulting from an oil spill, without any similar mechanism in place to respond to a spill of alternative fuels, which are themselves so central to a green transition. Somewhat perversely, victims of accidents involving an oil spill may therefore enjoy better protections than victims of an alternative fuels spill.

In summary, while the use of alternative fuels will no doubt help to reduce the industry's carbon footprint, there are safety and practical hurdles to overcome. Stakeholders must also come together to find solutions to complex - and urgent, in relative terms - legal and regulatory challenges.


Photo credit: Manifold Times
Source:  International Union of Marine Insurance
Published: 13 June 2024

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Expert discusses technical considerations of using ammonia as marine fuel

Ammonia as bunker fuel poses significant safety challenges due to its toxicity and flammability, says Senior Marine Surveyor Muammer Akturk.





Technical considerations of ammonia as marine fuel

Muammer Akturk, a Senior Marine Surveyor specialising in alternative bunker fuels, on Monday (10 June) published an article on technical considerations of using ammonia as a marine fuel in his Alternative Marine Fuels Newsletter.

The article dives into the use of ammonia as a marine fuel, focusing on the safety and technical considerations necessary for its implementation.

Ammonia is recognised for its potential as a zero-carbon fuel, making it an attractive option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the shipping industry. However, it poses significant safety challenges due to its toxicity and flammability.

Key points discussed include:

  1. Safety Measures: The importance of stringent design and operational safety measures to prevent ammonia releases and mitigate risks during both normal and emergency conditions is emphasized. This includes the need for gas dispersion analyses and the use of safety systems like gas detectors and alarms
  2. Regulatory Framework: The article reviews the latest regulations and guidelines developed to ensure the safe use of ammonia as a marine fuel. This includes the IACS Unified Requirement H1, which provides a framework for controlling ammonia releases on vessels
  3. Engineering Considerations: Technical aspects such as fuel storage, handling systems, and the role of risk assessments in identifying potential hazards and implementing preventive measures are detailed
  4. Human Factors: The article also considers the human factors approach to safety, emphasizing training and the importance of designing systems that account for human errorOverall, the article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the challenges and solutions associated with using ammonia as a marine fuel, highlighting the importance of safety and regulatory compliance in its adoption.

Editor’s note: The full article can be found at the link here.


Published: 13 June 2024

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Green Marine Fuels Trading, Vopak team up on green methanol port storage facilities

Green Marine Fuels revealed a strategic collaboration with Vopak to secure necessary port storage to accommodate green methanol supply in Shanghai, Tianjin and later in Singapore.





Green Marine Fuels Trading, Vopak team up on green methanol port storage facilities

Green Marine Fuels Trading on Tuesday (11 June) announced a strategic collaboration with Royal Vopak Terminals in the key ports of Shanghai Caojing and Tianjin Lingang, China. 

The firm said the milestone agreement marked the next phase of methanol supply chain infrastructure expansion for Green Marine Fuels Trading, securing necessary port storage capacity to accommodate projected supply of green methanol from Chinese business partners.  

Green Marine will be undertaking a similar cooperation plan with Vopak Singapore as well. 

Gavin McGrath, Director at Green Marine, said: “This is an important milestone in the evolution of Green Marine Fuels Trading and further underscores our preparedness to supply green methanol to the imminent green transition within the shipping industry.” 

“Our leadership in the global methanol marine fuel sector uniquely positions us to bridge the gap between methanol producers and buyers, with storage and supply infrastructure being a crucial link in the chain.”

“We eagerly anticipate leveraging our expertise in these domains to enrich the Shanghai and Tianjin green port and marine fuel ecosystems.”

Manifold Times previously reported Vopak signing a strategic cooperation agreement with the Vice Mayor of Tianjin delegation to support the repurposing of Vopak Tianjin's infrastructure for new energies, including green methanol, sustainable aviation fuel, and potentially ammonia and liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHC).

Vopak said Tianjin Port Group will work closely with Vopak to develop a green methanol bunkering service solution.

Related: Tianjin Port Group and Vopak partner to develop green methanol bunkering service


Photo credit: Green Marine Group
Published: 12 June 2024

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