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Biofuel Supply Chain Tracing Trial Completed in Singapore

A sampling procedure carried out by the surveyor at the ship bunkering manifold during bunkering. Photo courtesy Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD)

Biofuel Supply Chain Tracing Trial Completed in Singapore

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1100
February 21, 2023

A consortium led by the Singapore-based Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) has announced the successful completion of trials on two supply chains of biofuel blends sourced from different origins.

The supply chain trials encompassed tracing biofuels from their production sites outside Singapore, to Singapore where the fuels were blended and bunkered onto vessels. The trials involved five vessels and approximately 4,700 metric tons of sustainable biofuel blends. Lab testing of the fuels continued until they were consumed onboard.

GCMD was formed in 2021 with funding from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and six founding partners, namely BHP, BW, DNV Foundation, Eastern Pacific Shipping, Ocean Network Express (ONE) and Sembcorp Marine. 

With sustainable biofuel expected to have a role in shipping’s future fuel mix, establishing a framework for ensuring the traceability of supply chains is critical.

“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,” said Dr. Sanjay Kuttan, CTO at GCMD. “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.”

The trials involved two drop-in sustainable biofuel blends; the first involving Used Cooking Oil Methyl Ester (UCOME) blended with Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil (VLSFO) and the second involving UCOME blended with High Sulphur Fuel Oil (HSFO).

In the first supply chain, Chevron provided a 24% biofuel blend with VLSFO to the CMA CGM Maupassant and MOL Endowment, the latter a vessel operated by ONE. Chevron also bunkered a 20% biofuel blend in its own Singapore Voyager and in Elizabeth I.A., owned by Angelicoussis Group and managed by its oil tanker shipping unit, Maran Tankers Shipmanagement. In the second separate supply chain, TotalEnergies Marine Fuels provided B24 VLSFO to the Lycaste Peace, which is owned by NYK and chartered to Astomos Energy Corporation.

This first set of supply chain trials, which kicked off on October 31, are part of a pilot program first announced last July. The full pilot involves 19 industry partners, with 13 vessels spanning the container, tanker, and bulker segments bunkering in Singapore and Rotterdam. Three more supply chain trials are planned.

“Through these trials, we have gained a better appreciation of the complexities of real-world operations,” said Dr. Prapisala Thepsithar, director of projects at GCMD and project lead. “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.”

GCMD said that over the three months during which the trials took place, the quality of the biofuel blends remained stable. With the data collected from the completed trials and additional data to be collected from the three other supply chains, GCMD is working with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to develop a robust framework for GHG accounting and conduct cost-benefit analysis of deploying biofuels.

ONE said it was the company’s fourth successful biofuel trial. MOL Endowment loaded 992 metric tons of the biofuel product at the Port of Singapore before continuing on its regular deployment on ONE’s Japan Straits Malaysia (JSM) service. The fuel was consumed over the course of 20 days in January.

“The maritime industry has many interconnected players, and collaboration is key in moving our decarbonization ambition forward. It is encouraging to see the various partners at different points of the supply chain come together in this biofuel trial for the common goal of a better, more sustainable future,” said ONE CEO Jeremy Nixon. “At ONE, digitization and decarbonization are some of our top business priorities. This 4th biofuel trial marks a step forward in our goal to achieve net-zero by 2050.”

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