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Singapore bunkering sector enters new chapter with first LNG dual fuelled tanker

10 Apr 2018

Singapore-based bunkering firm Sinanju Tankers Holdings (Sinanju) and project partner Mitsui & Co. (Asia Pacific) (Mitsui AP) placed an order for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) dual-fuel powered bunker tanker with Keppel Singmarine on Monday.

The development was based on a decision to support Singapore’s direction to be a global maritime hub for connectivity, innovation and talent as part of its Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map, says the General Manager of Sinanju.

“This vessel will be utilised to train crew on LNG handling procedures and safety,” Desmond Chong told Manifold Times in an interview.

“Operating this bunker tanker will add impetus for our staff and crew to familiarise themselves with the Technical Reference for LNG Bunkering (TR56:2017) and more importantly, the safe and efficient handling of LNG when re-fuelling this vessel.

“We will be in good stead when embarking in ship-to-ship LNG bunkering as our next milestone.”

The 7,990 dwt bunkering vessel, Singapore’s first, will be powered mainly by liquefied natural gas (LNG) to deliver marine fuels to ocean-going vessels within local port limits. It is capable of delivering a variety of bunker fuels, with the exception of LNG, to receiving ships.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) in October 2016 launched the LNG bunkering pilot programme with a budget of SGD $12 million to test operational protocols, gain operational experience and beef up Singapore’s capabilities in the areas of LNG bunkering. 

In December 2017, it injected another SGD $12 million of funds to boost the development of LNG bunkering operations at Singapore; half of it has been set aside to co-fund the building of new LNG bunkering vessels while the remaining will be used to support the construction of LNG-fuelled vessels at Singapore.

The funds have been helpful in financing Sinanju’s latest newbuilding project; however, more needs to be done if the company were to take the next step of constructing a specialised bunkering vessel capable of delivering LNG as a marine fuel.

“MPA’s grant of up to SGD $3 million to build a LNG bunkering vessel is very much appreciated; but for now, when the price of a LNG newbuild is at two to three times the cost of a normal bunker tanker, it is simply too huge an investment hurdle for a small enterprise like ourselves to undertake,” says Chong.

“As the world’s largest bunkering port, we support MPA’s multi-pronged approach to position Singapore as a world leader in providing access to clean fuels such as LNG across key shipping routes.

“However, without clear direction from shipowners on their fuel requirements from 2020 onwards, and no indication by LNG-powered vessels on their LNG bunker volumes – and if at all to call at Singapore for LNG bunker, we have been forced to take a hard look at the commercial justification of investing in LNG bunkering vessels at this current moment.”

Moving on, Chong believes Sinanju’s newbuild dual fuel powered bunkering vessel will be able to meet the fuel delivery requirements of its clients at Singapore port.

“We see a trend in oil companies encouraging and promoting the use of LNG in the shipping industry as a clean alternative fuel,” he says.

“We thus believe that such a LNG-powered vessel would be aligned to our clients’ (namely the oil majors and independent suppliers) requirements for their use.”

Photo credit: Sinanju Tankers Holdings
Published: 10 April, 2018


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