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Singapore completes world’s first live paperless cross-border trade

Trade involved ExxonMobil Asia Pacific, Bunkerchain and VLK; Bunkerchain provided digital solution supporting key logistics documentation processes for cross-border liquid chemical trade.




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The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) on Thursday (30 March) said together with industry players, they successfully executed a live shipment from Singapore to Thailand during Q1 2023. 

This fully paperless, live cross-border trade involved the use of an ETR, that is functionally equivalent to a paper Bill of Lading (BL) using Singapore’s TradeTrust framework.

Pioneered by IMDA, TradeTrust was designed to address the challenges of paper-based cross-border trades, leveraging international standards and frameworks, utilising blockchain-powered technology to enable digitalisation of transferable documents into ETR. IMDA’s TradeTrust framework harmonises the legal recognition of digital documentations between various jurisdictions which has adopted the United Nations Commission on International TradeLaw (UNCITRAL) Model Law on Electronic Transferable Records (MLETR).

The world’s first ETR cross-border trade involved ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd. as the shipper, Bunkerchain as the TradeTrust-enabled digital platform provider and VLK as the vessel owner who is supported by their Protection & Indemnity (P&I) Club. 

Bunkerchain provided a digital solution that supported the key logistics documentation processes for the cross-border liquid chemical trade involving multiple parties such as a surveyor and custom broker. 

The use of TradeTrust has enabled the digitalisation of the issuance, ownership title transfer and surrender of the ETR as an electronic Bill of Lading (eBL) between the different stakeholders across different systems, that is compliant to the UNCITRAL MLETR requirements.

How the Shipment was Conducted 

  • ExxonMobil Asia Pacific shipped liquid chemicals from Singapore to Thailand. 
  • VLK issued an electronic Bill of Lading (eBL) using Bunkerchain, a TradeTrust-enabled digital platform. 
  • The use of Marine Vessel Pass, a joint project between S&P Global Market Intelligence and Bunkerchain, created a Digital Passports for Ships on the eBL ensured that digital identity used in the signing, was onboarded, and verified by S&P Global Market Intelligence. This was tied to their International Maritime Organization number.
  • The eBL was subsequently surrendered on the TradeTrust Reference Implementation, demonstrating interoperability across different systems without the need to develop inter-system connectivity protocols such as APIs. It also established the interoperability between digital and paper-based processes. 
  • VLK was supported by their Protection and Indemnity (P&I) Club, on the basis that the P&I liabilities arising from the use of a TradeTrust-issued eBL is equivalent to the liabilities that could have arisen under the use of a paper-based Bill of Lading. 
  • The eBL was legally supported solely by statutory law without the use of any contract law or rulebook. This shipment showed that an eBL issued using the TradeTrust framework can be used in a non-MLETR jurisdiction, such as Thailand. 

The introduction of eBLs has enabled greater efficiency by streamlining and automating existing processes. The benefits include shorter waiting times and reduced costs. This pilot builds on cooperation with industry partners like ExxonMobil to encourage the use of ETRs and facilitate cross-border trade. Using the TradeTrust framework, ETRs can be issued, transferred, and surrendered between multiple stakeholders in a trusted manner, across different digital platforms, which is necessary in the context of cross-border trade. 

“Since 2019, Singapore has looked to reshape, reimagine, and redefine the way the world trades. International trade ecosystem is heavily reliant on physical paper documents and signatures for validation,” Mr Loh Sin Yong, Director, TradeTrust, IMDA, said. 

“This live transaction for consignment of liquid chemical from Singapore to Thailand, leverages on the TradeTrust framework to create an eBL that uses UNCITRAL’s MLETR compliant statutory law framework.”

“More importantly, we are excited to have demonstrated that the industry can potentially use eBL even if there was no basis of a contractual legal framework. We believe this will illuminate wider adoption of eBL in cross-border trade.”

“This pilot is part of ExxonMobil’s efforts to increase our supply chain resiliency through digitalisation of business processes. We welcome frameworks like TradeTrust as an important part of our journey towards digitalisation. Such frameworks increase efficiency and cost savings while maintaining high standards and trust, and we hope that this successful trial will lead to increased interest from industry to adopt similar standards,” Mr Low Say Lim, Asia Pacific Liquids Logistics & Distribution Manager, ExxonMobil Asia Pacific, said. 


Photo credit: Manifold Times
Published: 4 April, 2023

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Kambara Kisen orders methanol dual-fuel bulker from Tsuneishi Shipbuilding

Firm ordered a 65,700-dwt methanol dual-fuel dry bulk carrier with Tsuneishi Shipbuilding; MOL signed a basic agreement on time charter for the newbuilding that is slated to be delivered in 2027.





Kambara Kisen orders methanol dual-fuel bulker from Tsuneishi Shipbuilding

Japanese shipowner Kambara Kisen has ordered a 65,700-dwt methanol dual-fuel dry bulk carrier newbuilding from Tsuneishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd, according to Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) on Wednesday (20 September).

MOL said it signed a basic agreement on time charter for the newbuilding that is slated to be delivered in 2027. 

The vessel will be designed to use e-methanol produced primarily by synthesising recovered CO2 and hydrogen produced using renewable energy sources, and bio-methanol derived from biogas. 

The vessel's design maximises cargo space while ensuring sufficient methanol tank capacity set to allow the required navigational distance assuming various routes, at the same time maximising cargo space. 

MOL added the vessel is expected to serve mainly in the transport of biomass fuels from the east coast of North America to Europe and the U.K. and within the Pacific region, as well as grain from the east coast of South America and the U.S. Gulf Coast to Europe and the Far East.

Details on the time-charter contract:

Shipowner: Kambara Kisen wholly owned subsidiary
Charterer: MOL Drybulk Ltd.
Charter period 2027: -

Details on the newbuilding methanol dual fuel bulk carrier:

LOA: About 200 m
Breadth: About 32.25 m
Draft: About 13.80 m
Deadweight: About 65,700 MT
Hold capacity: About 81,500m3
Shipyard: Tsuneishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.

Photo credit: Mitsui O.S.K. Lines
Published: 22 September, 2023

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Argus Media: Alternatives may drive methanol market growth

Driven by low-carbon policies and regulations, the transportation sector — especially the marine fuels industry — could be a source of heightened demand, according to Argus.





RESIZED Argus media

The growth of sustainable alternatives to traditional methanol production sources likely will shape the market over the next several years, industry leaders said this week at the Argus Methanol Forum.

20 September 

Driven by low-carbon policies and regulations, the transportation sector — especially the marine fuels industry — could be a source of heightened demand.

"The aim is to be net zero by 2050 but [those solutions are] expensive today and one of the main challenges to build e-methanol or bio-methanol plants is a huge queue for these pieces of equipment that aren't available," Anita Gajadhar, executive director for Swiss-based methanol producer Proman, said.

Bio-based and e-methanol plants of commercial scale, like Proman's natural gas-fed 1.9 million metric tonne/yr M5000 plant in Trinidad and Tobago, are not ready today.

"But that's not to say 10 years from now they won't be there," Gajadhar added.

Smaller projects are popping up. Dutch fuels and gas supplier OCI Global announced plans last week to double the green methanol capacity at its Beaumont, Texas, facility to 400,000 t/yr and will add e-methanol to production for the first time. Production will use feedstocks such as renewable natural gas (RNG), green hydrogen and biogas.

The globally oversupplied methanol market will not get any major supply additions starting in 2024 until 2027. But that oversupply will not last long, Gajadhar said.

Global demand has slowed this year, driven by stagnate economic growth and higher interest rates, according to industry observers.

As much as half of methanol demand is tied to GDP growth, with total methanol demand estimates at 88.9mn t globally in 2023. This is essentially flat from 2022, but up from 88.3m t in 2021 and 87.7mn t in 2020, Dave McCaskill, vice-president of methanol and derivatives for Argus Media's consulting service, said.

Demand is not expected to rebound to 2019 levels of 89.6mn t until 2024 or 2025, he added.

The period of oversupply combined with lackluster demand places methanol in a transition period, Gajadhar said, which opens the door for sustainable feedstock alternatives to shape market growth.

Danish container shipping giant Maersk and French marine logistics company CMA-CGM announced earlier this week a partnership to drive decarbonization in shipping. The partnership seeks to develop fuel and operations standards for bunkering with alternative fuels. The companies will develop net-zero solutions, including new technology and alternative fuels.

Maersk has previously ordered dual-fuel methanol-powered vessels and CMA-CGM LNG-propelled vessels.

The demand for alternative feedstock-derived fuels is there, but the ability to scale-up such production lags. Certified lower-carbon methanol produced using carbon capture and sequestration — also known as blue methanol— can ramp up much more quickly, according to Gajadhar.

By Steven McGinn

Photo credit and source: Argus Media
Published: 22 September, 2023

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Royal Caribbean completes over 12 weeks of bio bunker fuel testing in Europe

Firm expanded its biofuel testing this summer in Europe to two additional ships — Royal Caribbean International’s “Symphony of the Seas” and Celebrity Cruises’ “Celebrity Apex”.





Royal Caribbean completes over 12 weeks of bio bunker fuel testing in Europe

Royal Caribbean Group on Tuesday (19 September) said it successfully completed over 12 consecutive weeks of biofuel testing in Europe. 

Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas became the first ship in the maritime industry to successfully test and use a biofuel blend in Barcelona to meet part of her fuel needs. 

The company confirmed onboard technical systems met operational standards, without quality or safety concerns, demonstrating the biofuel blend is a reliable “drop in” supply of lower emission energy that ships can use to set sail across Europe and beyond. 

The tests across Europe also provided valuable data to understand the availability and scalability of biofuel in the region, the firm added. 

Jason Liberty, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group, said: “This is a pivotal moment for Royal Caribbean Group’s alternative fuel journey.”

“Following our successful trial of biofuels this summer, we are one step closer to bringing our vision for net-zero cruising to life. As we strive to protect and promote the vibrant oceans we sail, we are determined to accelerate innovation and improve how we deliver vacation experiences responsibly.”

President of the Port of Barcelona, Lluís Salvadó, said: “Royal Caribbean’s success is a clear example of how commitment to innovation makes possible the development of solutions to decarbonise the maritime sector.”

“In this case, it involves the cruise sector and focuses on biofuels, an area in which the Port of Barcelona is already working to become an energy hub, producing and supplying zero carbon fuels, such as green hydrogen and ammonia, and of other almost zero-carbon alternative fuels, such as methanol, biofuels or synthetic fuels. Innovation and collaboration between ports and shipping companies is key to accelerate the decarbonisation of maritime transport.”

The company began testing biofuels last year and expanded the trail this summer in Europe to two additional ships — Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas and Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Apex

The sustainable biofuel blends tested were produced by purifying renewable raw materials like waste oils and fats and combining them with fuel oil to create an alternative fuel that is cleaner and more sustainable. The biofuel blends tested are accredited by International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC), a globally recognized organization that ensures sustainability of biofuels and verifies reductions of related emissions.

With Symphony of the Seas departing from the Port of Barcelona and Celebrity Apex departing from the Port of Rotterdam, both ships accomplished multiple sailings using biofuel and contributed critical data on the fuel’s capabilities. 

“These results will help accelerate Royal Caribbean Group’s plans to continue testing the use of different types of biofuels on upcoming European sailings this fall. The company is exploring strategic partnerships with suppliers and ports to ensure the availability of biofuel and infrastructures to advance the maritime energy transition,” the firm said. 

Photo credit: Royal Caribbean Group 
Published: 22 September, 2023

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