Singapore's shipping industry aims to achieve cleaner fuel target ahead of 2020 global deadline

Ships and heavy equipment at the PSA Tanjong Pagar Terminal, on Oct 2, 2018. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Singapore, a major marine oil supplier, is accelerating plans to move towards cleaner and alternative fuels.

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) is working closely with stakeholders to ensure that Singapore is ready to supply low-sulphur compliant fuels ahead of a Jan 1, 2020, global deadline set by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), said Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Lam Pin Min on Wednesday (Oct 3).

The United Nations agency will cap sulphur in marine fuels at 0.5 per cent worldwide from the date.

In Singapore, the MPA will make available the list of licensed bunker suppliers of low-sulphur fuels by mid-2019, Dr Lam said at the 20th Singapore International Bunkering Conference and Exhibition at Resorts World Convention Centre.

To support the local bunker industry's efforts in developing innovative marine fuel solutions, the MPA has allocated $5 million under the Green Energy Programme to support the development and use of cleaner alternative marine fuels such as biofuels and methanol, he said.

Companies can tap the fund to conduct research and development in alternative fuels to meet future greenhouse gas emissions regulations.

Speaking at the same event, Mr Matt Bergeron, vice-president of Asia Pacific Fuels Business at ExxonMobil, said that the firm is considering a multi-billion dollar investment at its Singapore refinery.

"Should the project proceed, we plan to implement proprietary technologies that will convert lower value by-products into cleaner higher value products including 0.5 per cent sulphur fuels that we believe will be the compliant option for the vast majority of the marine sector," he said.

"We have already made significant investments at a number of other refineries around the world in order to increase our production capacity of cleaner fuels with lower sulphur content," Mr Bergeron added.

In 2017, Singapore's bunker sales volumes crossed the 50 million tonne mark for the first time, and sales in the first half of 2018 have held steady compared to the same period last year, totalling a little above 25 million tonnes.

At the event, Dr Lam also gave an update on the good progress the MPA has made on LNG (liquefied natural gas) bunkering in Singapore over the last few years.

To kick-start the use of LNG as a marine fuel, the MPA has co-funded the construction of eight LNG-fuelled vessels.

The first two were delivered this year to Keppel SMIT Towage and Maju Maritime, which have since conducted a total of 15 LNG bunkering operations.

Dr Lam said: "With the impending global sulphur limit and the IMO's commitment to halve carbon emissions by 2050, the bunker industry in Singapore is at an inflexion point. If we are able to overcome these challenges, I am confident that we will be able to take the industry to greater heights."

The MPA and its industry partners will co-create a 2030 roadmap for the Singapore bunker industry, to chart the way forward in an operating environment enabled by digitalisation, automation and the Internet of Things.

Dr Lam said: "The roadmap will be a beacon as the industry navigates ahead and plans for future growth."

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