Port of Singapore sees spike in demand for green fuels

The Port of Singapore, the world’s busiest transshipment hub and largest bunkering port, reported a growing demand for greener fuels in 2023 as it continues streamlining efforts towards a multi-fuel future.

Bunker sales in Singapore reached a record 51.8 million tonnes in 2023, surpassing the previous high, with alternative fuels accounting for 1.2% of the sales, according to MPA.

Related Article

As a major hub connecting Asia with the Americas, Middle East, Europe and Africa, Singapore witnessed a remarkable year despite significant geopolitical challenges disturbing global maritime trade. Vessel arrival tonnage crossed the three billion gross tonnage (GT) mark for the first time, reaching a record of 3.09 billion GT in 2023. The three billion GT mark was crossed with the arrival of 98,799 GT Singapore-flagged containership, ONE Olympus, in late December 2023.

What is more, the container throughput at the port grew by 4.6%, reaching a new high of 39.01 million TEUs, and a total of more than 590 million tonnes of cargo was handled.

Singapore continues to grow as an international maritime center with total business spending exceeding S$4.8 billion (about $3.5 billion) in 2023, with over 25 maritime companies establishing or expanding their operations here. For example, Japanese sogo shosha Itochu has established a green desk in Singapore to support the green fuel bunkering and transportation value chain.

Singapore working to meet evolving alternative fuel needs

The port is constantly enhancing its capabilities to meet the evolving fuel needs of the global maritime industry.

In July 2023, the world’s first ship-to-containership methanol bunkering operation on board the Laura Maersk was conducted in the Port of Singapore. The operation was supported by MPA, working together with Maersk and various government and research partners, to ensure that the crew training, safety preparations and incident management responses, were all in place for efficient and safe operations.

Related Article

In December 2023, Singapore welcomed its first methanol bunkering vessel, marking another stride in its commitment to serve as a living lab for bunkering alternative fuels.  The vessel, MT Maple, was built by Sasaki Shipbuilding in Japan.

Related Article

Furthermore, in March 2024, the port worked with its partners and supported the trial in the Port of Singapore on the world’s first use of ammonia, in combination with diesel in the combustion process, as a marine fuel onboard the Singapore-flagged ammonia-powered vessel, the Fortescue Green Pioneer.

The ship was loaded with liquid ammonia, in combination with diesel in the combustion process, from the existing ammonia facility at Vopak Banyan Terminal on Jurong Island for the fuel trial. The fuel trial was carried out over a period of seven weeks and included rigorous testing of the Fortescue Green Pioneer’s ammonia storage systems, associated piping, gas fuel delivery system, retrofitted engines, and seaworthiness.

Related Article

The port authority is in the process of development of the Technical Reference for Methanol Bunkering in 2024. Additionally, for ammonia, the port authority has concluded an Expression of Interest (EOI) to provide a low- or zero-carbon ammonia solution for power generation and bunkering on Jurong Island.

In the past few months, MPA initiated several green and digital shipping corridors with global partners to trial new technologies and fuels and to support the scale-up of green and smart solutions to improve the efficiency and sustainability of shipping routes. These include GDSCs with the Port of Rotterdam, ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the Port of Tianjin as well as GDSCs with governments of Japan and Australia.

Related Article

On the electrification agenda, the Port of Singapore is working together with the industry and research entities to help reduce the cost of adopting electric harbour craft (eHC) in the port. It recently launched the first eHC charging point pilot at the Marina South Pier.

In November 2023, Yinson GreenTech, alongside the Goal Zero Consortium led by SeaTech Solutions, celebrated the launch of the Hydromover, Singapore’s first fully electric cargo vessel. The vessel was one of the three winning proposals announced by MPA and the Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI).

Several months later, Singapore’s maritime start-up Pyxis unveiled its first 100% electric passenger vessel, X Tron.

Boosting decarbonization efforts on multiple fronts

Apart from future marine fuels and bunkering infrastructure, MPA works on multiple fronts to support the decarbonization of the maritime industry.

These include port terminals, efforts at IMO and other international platforms, R&D activities, ship registry, carbon awareness, carbon accounting, green financing, and similar.

It is actively exploring natural energy sources intending to reduce energy demand and lower emissions. It is also driving sustainable development and circular economy demonstrated in the construction of energy-saving buildings.

In 2023, MPA launched a range of digitalization initiatives aimed at enhancing support for the maritime industry. These efforts encompassed the enhancements to improve operational efficiencies and effectiveness as well as a number of new digital initiatives.

“We are mindful of the various challenges that will continue to impact global supply chains going ahead. However, these also present opportunities that can help focus international efforts and bring to bear the collective resources to develop solutions to address these challenges,” Teo Eng Dih, Chief Executive Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, commented in MPA’s 2023 Annual Report.

“As the world’s busiest transshipment hub and largest bunkering port, Singapore can play a big role to catalyse the transformation efforts in the sector, tapping on our strong innovation ecosystem and facilitative regulatory environment. There is much that we need to do and can do. I look forward to the continued work with our tripartite partners – industry partners and unions, and our global partners – to make international shipping become more resilient, efficient and sustainable.”