Astomos, Inpex in Middle East’s 1st ever VLGC biofuel bunkering

Japanese LPG trader and importer Astomos Energy Corporation and compatriot energy company Inpex Corporation have completed the supply of B24 biofuel bunker to a Very Large Gas Carrier (VLGC) chartered by Astomos. The endeavor marks the first-ever biofuel supply to a VLGC in the Middle East.

Lucaste peace; Image credit NYK Line

Biofuels can be used without modifying the existing ship’s engines and port infrastructure. Furthermore, although biofuels generate carbon dioxide (CO2) when combusted, they are considered carbon-neutral because they are made from biomass and feedstock, such as waste cooking oil. So biofuels are expected to be one of the most promising next-generation fuels for decarbonization.

The operation builds upon the duo’s agreement signed in May 2023, under which INPEX took charge of supplying B24 biofuel to the VLGC named Lycaste Peace at Sharjah port in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The biofuel was delivered on May 21 through the bunker vessel Monjasa Shaker operated by marine fuel supplier Monjasa. The vessel completed the use of the biofuel on June 5.

 Lycaste Peace, owned by NYK Line and chartered by Astomos, has already bunkered FAME B24* marine biofuel in Singapore back in February this year. The pilot journey on the LPG carrier served as a demonstration as part of a project to establish an assurance framework for the supply chain of sustainable biofuels led by the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD).

This project, announced at the end of July 2022, involved Astomos and NYK Line, as part of a consortium consisting of 19 industry partners and 13 vessels, including container ships, tankers, and bulk carriers, bunkering in five supply chains.

The trials aim to establish a framework that provides transparency in the supply chain of marine biofuels from upstream to downstream in order to ensure their wider adoption by the industry. The framework is expected to facilitate the establishment of a supply chain transparency for next-generation fuels other than biofuels, such as ammonia.

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The B24 biofuel blend comprises 24 percent fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) and 76 percent very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO), a conventional bunker fuel. The FAME used in the biofuel was produced by Dubai-based Neutral Fuels, utilizing waste cooking oil collected from various restaurants and hotels in the UAE. To complete the blend, Monjasa supplied the VLSFO and blended it with the FAME.

The FAME used in the B24 biofuel has received certification from the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification system, which covers various bio-based feedstocks and renewables. This certification provides assurance regarding the environmental sustainability and carbon neutrality of the biofuel supply.

Astomos and INPEX have a track record of pursuing a joint initiative toward the realization of a carbon-neutral society, including entering a carbon-neutral propane gas sales and purchase agreement in September 2021.

The recent biofuel bunker supply in the Middle East is in line with this initiative, which the companies will take steps to accelerate including expanding the supply of biofuel bunker.

In partnership with NYK and Sustainable Energy, the company is also taking part in a study on generating biofuel from the organic waste stored onboard oceangoing vessels.