Singapore: Bunker sales of biofuels more than tripled in 2023

Singapore has made significant progress in the supply of alternative fuels as bunker sales of biofuel blends increased to 520,000 tonnes in 2023, which more than tripled from 140,000 tonnes in 2022.

This was revealed at the Singapore Maritime Foundation (SMF) New Year Conversations event held last week. During the event, Chee Hong Tat, Acting Minister for Transport, announced a record year in 2023 for Maritime Singapore.

As informed, biofuel blends of up to B30 are commercially available, while trials of up to B100 are ongoing. Worth noting is that the first marine biofuel trial involving an ocean-going vessel in Singapore was carried out in April 2021.

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MPA also informed that liquefied natural gas bunker sales amounted to 110,000 tonnes in 2023, up from 16,000 tonnes in 2022. 

In July 2023, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) conducted the world’s first ship-to-containership methanol bunkering operation, where about 300 tonnes of green methanol was supplied for the first time in the Port of Singapore.

What is more, the global maritime bunkering hub welcomed the delivery of its first methanol bunkering vessel last month.

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In addition, new fully electric 200-pax passenger ferries and supply vessels were deployed in 2023, operating within port waters to support the local maritime ecosystem.    

MPA recently called for an Expression of Interest (EOI) for the supply of methanol as a marine bunker fuel in the port. The EOI seeks to gather proposals for end-to-end methanol bunkering solutions, scheduled to be implemented in Singapore in 2025.

The port authority is also developing new standards supporting vessel electrification, cybersecurity, and the use of new bunker fuels such as methanol and ammonia. In 2022, MPA and the Energy Market Authority jointly issued an EOI for ammonia power generation and bunkering which attracted 26 proposals. The second selection phase is ongoing.   

51.82 million tonnes of bunker sales were registered in 2023, surpassing the previous record of 50.64 million tonnes in 2017. This is said to reflect Singapore’s support to the global shipping community as a bunkering hub. Of this, 1.2% are alternative fuels and this is expected to continue with good growth prospects in the coming year, according to MPA.

To boost the efficiency and transparency of bunkering delivery documentation and workflow in the Port of Singapore, MPA implemented the Digital Bunkering initiative in November 2023. To date, four solution providers have been approved by MPA, and three bunker suppliers and barge operators have commenced digital bunkering operations. More companies are expected to join in the coming year. MPA will continue its efforts to gather feedback and drive early adoption. When fully implemented, digital bunkering is expected to save up to 40,000 man-hours annually.

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A year by the numbers

The annual vessel arrival tonnage in the Port of Singapore crossed three billion GT for the first time, increasing by 9.4% over 2022 and setting a high of 3.09 billion GT in 20231. This reflects growth in all segments of the port ecosystem, including container ships, dry bulk carriers, liquid bulk and chemical tankers, ferries and specialized vessels, amidst a global trade slowdown.

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Singapore’s container throughput in 2023 grew by 4.6% reaching a new high of 39.01 million TEUs, compared to the previous record of 37.57 million TEUs in 2021. Eight berths from the new Tuas Port Phase 1 are operational and 70% of reclamation works in Phase 2 have been completed.

A total of 591.70 million tonnes of cargo was handled in 2023, up from 578.22 million tonnes in 2022. The average monthly frequency of regional ferry trips has recovered to about 70% of pre-COVID levels. 

As explained, the strong 2023 performance is largely attributed to the recovery in regional trade and the robust tripartite cooperation among the unions, industry and government to consistently enhance the efficiency, reliability and safety in the Port of Singapore. 

In 2023, Singapore retained its lead as the world’s top maritime center in the Xinhua-Baltic International Shipping Centre Development Index for the 10th consecutive year.

The Singapore Registry of Ships (SRS) continues to rank amongst the largest ship registries globally. The total tonnage of ships under the Singapore flag in 2023 reached 99.56 million GT, an increase of 4% from 95.47 million GT in 2022.

In 2023, 22 Singapore-flagged ships from ten companies received Green Ship Certificates under the Green Ship Programme. More such vessels are expected to use Singapore as a flag of choice in the coming years.

“MPA is closely monitoring the current geopolitical situation around the world and its impact on key shipping routes and global supply chains. Should the supply chain disruptions be protracted, and ships’ schedules increasingly impacted, the Port of Singapore stands ready to assist ships to “catch up” on their schedules and to support shippers in their cargo connections,” the port authority concluded.