Photo: MPA Singapore

Port of Singapore eyes more clean fuel options

In order to remain the world’s top bunkering hub, the Port of Singapore needs to look beyond liquefied natural gas (LNG), toward other zero or low carbon fuel types.

This was pointed out by Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Transport, at the Singapore Maritime Foundation’s New Year Conversations event on 13 January.

During his speech, the minister revealed that Singapore remained the world’s top bunkering hub in 2020 with sales amounting to 49.8 million tonnes, an increase of 5 per cent year-on-year.

Port of Singapore
Illustration. Image Courtesy: MPA Singapore

LNG bunker-ready port

At present, LNG is widely seen as a viable and clean transitional marine fuel to reduce carbon emissions from ships. Shipowners and charterers such as CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd and BHP are investing in LNG-fuelled vessels, both containerships and bulk carriers.

Singapore has been developing LNG bunkering capabilities under the LNG bunkering pilot programme.

“We partnered port administrations to establish a global network of LNG bunker-ready ports, co-funded the construction of LNG-fuelled vessels, and continue to promote LNG as a cleaner, interim fuel,” Chee Hong Tat continued.

Currently, the Port of Singapore currently has two licensed LNG bunker suppliers — FueLNG Pte Ltd and Pavilion Energy Singapore Pte Ltd. In anticipation of future demand growth, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore is evaluating proposals to award up to two additional LNG bunker supplier licences.

What is more, on 4 January 2021, Singapore welcomed its first LNG bunkering vessel, FueLNG Bellina. The newbuilding, delivered by Keppel Offshore and Marine to a joint venture between Keppel Offshore & Marine and Shell Eastern Petroleum, will enable the port to support ship-to-ship LNG bunkering operations.

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Fuel diversity will ensure further growth

According to the transport minister, there is scope to do more beyond LNG, such in the areas of setting new standards and developing green solutions, associated with zero or low carbon fuels.

MPA is already working with the industry and academia to develop technologies and pilot the use of alternative marine fuels, such as methanol and biofuels, and electric vessels, through its S$40 million Maritime Green Future Fund.

The authority is starting with the harbour craft sector as S$9 million has been set aside to support up to three consortia over the next five years, under a R&D grant call to decarbonise the domestic harbour craft fleet.

Additionally, MPA has set up an International Advisory Panel which brings together thought leaders from around the world. The panel will recommend strategies to chart the way forward for decarbonisation in the shipping industry. Moreover, the minister reflected on Singapore’s research capabilities and the intention to establish Singapore as the Centre of Excellence for R&D for decarbonisation.

“In the longer term, our target is to equip the Port of Singapore to supply a wide range of future, cleaner, fuels types, to meet the diverse needs of ships that choose to call here,” Chee Hong Tat noted.

“These endeavours will not only help secure Singapore’s lead as a top bunkering hub, but also support the vision for a greener and more sustainable maritime ecosystem,” he concluded.