GCMD, partners trial two supply chains of biofuel blends on five vessels

Singapore-based Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD), together with its consortium partners, has completed trialling two supply chains of biofuel blends from different origins as part of a drop-in biofuels pilot project announced in July 2022.

Archive; Illustration. Courtesy of GCMD

The full pilot involves 19 industry partners, with 13 vessels spanning the container, tanker, and bulker segments bunkering in Singapore and Rotterdam. The completed trials represent two of the five supply chains in the full pilot, which aims to establish an assurance framework for the supply chain of sustainable biofuels.

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These two supply chain trials encompassed tracing biofuels from their production sites outside Singapore to Singapore where the fuels were blended and bunkered. Lab testing of the fuels continued until they were consumed onboard, GCMD explained.

The trials, which took place from 31 October 2022 to 15 February 2023, involved five vessels and approximately 4,700 MT of sustainable biofuel blends were bunkered – the last batch of which will be consumed by end of February.

GCMD said that two sustainable biofuel blends were used in these trials: used cooking oil methyl ester (UCOME), a type of fatty acid methyl ester (FAME), blended with very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) and UCOME blended with high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO).

In the first supply chain, Chevron provided B24 VLSFO (24% biofuel blend) to CMA CGM Maupassant and ONE-operated MOL Endowment. Additionally, Chevron bunkered B20 HSFO (20% biofuel blend) in its own Singapore Voyager and in Elizabeth I.A. that is owned by Angelicoussis Group and managed by its oil tanker shipping unit, Maran Tankers Shipmanagement.

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In a separate supply chain, TotalEnergies Marine Fuels provided B24 VLSFO to Lycaste Peace which is owned by NYK and chartered to Astomos Energy Corporation.

According to GCMD, the supply chain trials were conducted under business-as-usual conditions in which individual fuel purchasers nominated their fuel suppliers of choice, and bunkering took place with vessels on commercial routes.

To ensure transparency and integrity of the supply chains for biofuels and biofuel blends from end-to-end, the centre deployed a range of tracing techniques, including dosing with physical tracers, fingerprinting, and deploying a lock-and-seal methodology, all of which were complemented with laboratory testing and analyses at numerous pre-determined points from fuel production to consumption.

Prapisala Thepsithar, Director of projects at GCMD and Project Lead on this drop-in fuel assurance pilot, said: “Through these trials, we have gained a better appreciation of the complexities of real-world operations. We have learned the hard lesson that not all tracing techniques are directly applicable for tracing sustainable biofuels as they stand, and we are currently undertaking efforts to refine their deployment. I am grateful for the support from and flexibility of our project partners in overcoming the roadblocks encountered during our trials. These learnings will inform our subsequent trials in the months ahead.”

Sanjay Kuttan, CTO of the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation, noted: “The lack of assurance on the quality, quantity and emissions abatement of biofuels is a painpoint we identified from interviewing more than 100 industry stakeholders. These trials were curated to address this gap. In developing a framework to provide transparency and bolster the integrity of the biofuels supply chain, we hope to increase user confidence and decrease the barrier for wider adoption.”

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