The 20th annual Singapore International Bunkering Conference (SIBCON) took place from 2-5 October 2018, with 2020’s sulphur cap, LNG and digitalisation all figuring large on the agenda
This year's SIBCON conference launched with an opening address from Singapore’s senior minister of state at the Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Health Dr Lam Pin Min. Dr Lam spoke about Singapore’s experiences with the mandatory use of mass-flow meters (MFM) for marine fuel oil delivery (MFO), saying the policy “has made MFO deliveries more efficient, and buyers are more assured of the volume delivered”.
Dr Lam detailed how Singapore’s Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) is taking steps to ensure the world’s largest bunkering hub can supply fuels compliant with IMO’s 2020 sulphur cap in advance of it coming into force. A list of licensed bunker suppliers of low-sulphur fuels will be made available by mid-2019, he added.
On the LNG front, Dr Lam discussed the Suez Canal Economic Zone Authority joining the LNG Bunkering Port Focus Group. “The growing membership will strengthen the global network of LNG bunkering facilities and give shipping lines more confidence to invest in LNG-fuelled vessels,” he said.
Dr Lam also disclosed that MPA has allocated S$5M (US$3.6M) of funding under its Green Energy Programme to support the development of cleaner alternative fuels, such as biofuels and methanol. “Companies can tap on the fund to conduct research and development in alternative fuels to meet future greenhouse gas emissions regulations,” he said.
In closing, he announced that MPA and industry partners will create a roadmap to 2030 for Singapore’s bunker industry.
“With the impending global sulphur limit and IMO’s commitment to halve carbon emissions by 2050, the bunker industry in Singapore is at an inflexion point,” he said. “If we are able to overcome these challenges, I am confident that we will be able to take the industry to greater heights.
“We therefore have to come together to chart the way forward in an operating environment enabled by digitalisation, automation and the internet-of-things.”
Two keynote speakers followed: ExxonMobil Fuels & Lubricants vice president for Asia-Pacific fuels Matt Bergeron spoke on “A longer-term view on global energy markets and environment regulation”; and APL’s chief executive officer Nicolas Sartini spoke on “Driving commercial and regulatory priorities in shipping markets.”
Mr Sartini was sceptical of talk of “digital disruption” like that of Uber and AirBnB in the maritime sector. “The success of these two disruptors comes from the fact they able to bring and use unused capacity to the market – in the case of Uber, private cars and in the case of Air BnB, flats. In our industry we indeed have excess capacity in the market, but it would not be possible for a digital operator to just unleash new destabilising capacity.”
Mr Sartini accepted that digitalisation is here to stay, noting that it must be embraced. “For a shipping company, this can be as simple as being able to offer online container pricing or booking,” he added.
The rest of the morning comprised panel discussions on pricing analysis and trends for marine fuels, as well as the state of global supply. The afternoon session focused on compliance with, and enforcement of, IMO’s 2020 sulphur cap. Panel discussions covered major shipowners’ strategies for compliance, technical and operational challenges of using low-sulphur fuel, and sulphur verification, enforcement and testing.
The second day kicked off with IKEA’s global head of ocean transport Rashmi Hahn giving “A shipper’s perspective on sustainable ocean shipping”. The morning sessions covered LNG as a fuel, ports and alternative cleaner fuels. After lunch the conference looked to the future, with panel discussions on the “New digital era in shipping and bunkering” and “Entrenching Singapore as the leading bunkering hub in the world”.