Singapore’s first LNG bunker vessel is the first in the world with ‘Smart’ notation, highlighting the drive for data-driven decision-making regarding efficiency, maintenance and safety
While there are some two dozen LNG bunker barges and vessels in operation globally, you will not find one ‘smarter’ than the recently delivered FueLNG Bellina. That’s because FueLNG Bellina is the world’s first LNG bunker vessel (BV) to receive a ‘Smart’ notation.
What makes FueLNG Bellina ‘Smart’ explains ABS director, global gas solutions Aditya Aggarwal, is that it is “equipped with the necessary data infrastructure to allow remote monitoring and real-time support of vessel operations. This infrastructure and the installed smart functions enable the leveraging of operational data to improve vessel operations.”
Operating out of the Port of Singapore – the country’s first LNGBV – FueLNG Bellina is owned by FueLNG Pte Ltd, a joint venture between Shell Eastern Petroleum Pte Ltd and Keppel Offshore & Marine. Based on an MTD 7500 design and built by the Keppel Nantong Shipyard in China, the LNGBV is fitted with Keppel O&M’s AssetCare solutions, a remote vessel monitoring and analytics platform for condition-based maintenance and real-time support of vessel operations.
ABS was selected by FueLNG to class the vessel, which has notations for ‘Smart Infrastructure (Smart INF)’ and ‘Crew Assistance and Augmentation (Smart CAA)’. Obtaining these notations form an integral part of the digital tools tailored by AssetCare to support FueLNG in enabling remote monitoring and real-time support of vessel operations, and predictive maintenance, which increases the vessel’s performance and efficiency.
Digital innovation even extended to the construction and commissioning of FueLNG Bellina. For example, smart glasses were used for remote inspection, which increased the shipyard’s efficiency while improving workforce safety – a key consideration during the Covid-19 pandemic.
With the drive towards improved efficiency, maintenance and safety, Mr Aggarwal sees a growing need for onboard digital solutions that provide deeper insight into operations. “Smart functions are becoming increasingly common onboard vessels and offshore units and ABS is supporting a number of owners to successfully implement their asset-specific Smart strategy,” says Mr Aggarwal.
“ABS has supported delivery of a range of Smart asset and vessel projects, including jack-up rigs, container vessels and a shuttle tanker. We see a steadily growing industry interest in smart notations,” he adds.
In the case of FueLNG Bellina the ‘Smart (INF)’ notation recognises the vessel’s data communication and network infrastructure capabilities. Mr Aggarwal explains that INF refers to ‘Data INFrastructure for Smart Function implementation’ and it focuses on the data handling capability.
“The inclusion of the Smart CAA within the Smart notation refers to automatic data collection, electronic logging, data processing, analysis, and report generation capability of the onboard system, to provide Crew Assistance and Augmentation,” he says.
Keppel O&M managing director, newbuilds Tan Leong Peng, says AssetCare shows Keppel’s commitment to “leverage smart functions and technologies to continue creating value for our customers.”
Adds FueLNG general manager Saunak Rai, FueLNG Bellina’s “digital tools, such as AssetCare, not only improve vessel performance and maintenance, but also enable the end-to-end digitalisation of the bunkering process which enhances efficiency, reliability, and convenience for customers.”
Smart and manoeuvrable
Besides its smart functionality, FueLNG Bellina is designed to efficiently refuel a wide range of vessels calling at the Port of Singapore. Highly manoeuvrable, the LNGBV is fitted with two stern azimuth thrusters and one bow thruster that allow it to perform ‘crabbing manoeuvres’ during bunkering operations, minimising tug utilisation and in turn reducing fuel consumption and emissions.
With a filling rate of between 100 and 1,000 m3 of LNG per hour, the LNGBV can refuel various types of vessels at heights ranging from 3 m to 23 m above the water level. This flexibility is essential in one of the world’s busiest bunkering hubs.
“Smart functions are becoming increasingly common onboard vessels and offshore units”
With dual-fuel propulsion, FueLNG Bellina utilises boil-off gas (BOG) as fuel for power generation and propulsion, reducing CO2, particulate matter and NOx emissions.
Awarded the LNG bunker supplier license by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) in 2016, FueLNG plans to supply LNG fuel from Singapore’s first dedicated LNG bunkering facility, constructed by Keppel O&M on its Floating Living Lab (FLL). Shell will supply the LNG to the 3,500-m3 capacity facility when it becomes operational in Q4 2021.
Besides current LNG bunker licensees FueLNG and Pavilion Energy Singapore, the MPA could award additional licenses in February under a request for proposals (RFP) it launched in October 2020. Proposals must contain an end-to-end LNG bunkering solution, detailing both the LNG supply and delivery model and marketing plan for the sale of LNG fuel.
One of those responding to the RFP was Greece’s Probunkers. “Our submission request for an LNG bunkering license for the Port of Singapore supports our quest to become the first independent global LNG bunker supplier,” said Probunkers chief executive Alexander Prokopakis. “The LNG-fuelled fleet is growing, and we see an increasing interest from charterers and shipowners for LNG as a fuel.”
First bunker vessel in Southeast Asia
Increasing LNG bunkering infrastructure at other ports in Asia underpins the use of LNG fuel in long-haul service. On its maiden voyage, Altera Infrastructure’s dual-fuel shuttle tanker Altera Wave was bunkered by Southeast Asia’s first LNG supply vessel, Avenir Advantage. Operating under a three-year charter by Petronas LNG Sdn Bhd, Avenir Advantage supplies LNG to fuel ships operating in Malaysia, while also delivering cargoes directly to small-scale customers in the region.
Following its maiden voyage from China in October, Avenir Advantage completed the commissioning of the LNG re-loading equipment on the FSU Tenaga Satu and bunkered the dual-fuel pure car truck carrier SIEM Aristotle.
Built by Keppel Offshore & Marine’s Nantong Shipyard, Jiangsu Province, China, the Malaysian-flagged Avenir Advantage and Avenir Accolade are dual-fuel (MGO and LNG) vessels, each with an overall length of 123.44 m, beam of 18.6 m and draught of 5.65 m, with two IMO Type C tanks with a total cargo capacity of 7,500 m3. Propulsion is supplied by a single screw, with power delivered by a Wärtsilä 6L34DF main engine, rated at 2,700 kW at 750 rpm.
Avenir LNG has four other LNGBVs – two 7,500-m3 and two 20,000-m3 capacity vessels – in various states of construction at China’s CIMC Sinopacific Offshore & Engineering (CIMC SOE). Avenir is spending US$111.8M to build the recently launched Avenir Allegiance – currently the world’s largest LNGBV at 20,000 m3 – and its sister vessel, Avenir Advantage.