As the world’s largest bunkering hub and one of its busiest transhipment connections, the Port of Singapore is a linchpin in the global supply chain
If you want to gauge the pulse of the current maritime market, look to Singapore.
In many ways, Singapore is in the vanguard of the maritime industry’s transformation. Driven by shipping’s push towards decarbonisation, Singapore has ambitions of being the LNG bunkering hub in southeast Asia, enhancing its LNG storage capabilities, increasing its LNG supply. By next year, three suppliers will be supporting LNG refuelling operations in the port, following the award of a bunker licence to Total Marine Solutions. Adding to this enhanced service capability is the first LNG bunker vessel for the country, FueLNG Bellina, owned by another of the port’s licensed suppliers, FueLNG, a joint venture of Shell and Keppel O&M.
Signing separate historic long-term sales and purchase agreements with Chevron USA and Qatar Petroleum Trading, the port’s third LNG supplier, Pavilion Energy, has begun laying the groundwork for the supply of carbon-neutral LNG to ships and buyers.
All of these changes align with what is occurring in the broader shipping market. More dual-fuel container ships, tankers and bulk carriers are being ordered or converted to burn LNG as a fuel.
Of course, Singapore is not putting all its eggs in LNG as shipping’s alternative fuel of choice. It is preparing for shipping’s multi-alternative fuel future with investments and research into lower carbon and carbon-free energy. This can be seen in several efforts to build a green ammonia supply chain the port. AP Moller-Maersk is joining with Fleet Management Limited, Keppel Offshore & Marine, Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, Sumitomo Corporation and Yara International to study the feasibility of green ammonia ship-to-ship bunkering in the Port of Singapore.
The effort would see local suppliers and shipyards build initially the first LPG bunker barges, with an eye on supplying brown, blue and green ammonia in the future.
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has joined another effort, The Castor Initiative, to jointly develop an ammonia-fuelled tanker design. Partners MISC, Lloyd’s Register, Samsung Heavy Industries and MAN Energy Solutions aim to have the technology ready for commercialisation by 2024.
Singapore-headquartered shipowner BW LPG has been a pioneer in retrofitting very large gas carriers to dual-fuel propulsion, committing to invest US$130M in 15 ships to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
On the home front, MPA is cutting local port emissions by supporting the use of LNG and hybrid technology in harbour tugs. It has gone a step further, joining with the Singapore Maritime Institute to support development of electrifying launches and harbour craft and charging infrastructure in the port.
This sea change in Singapore is being driven by the global transition to clean energy, and shipping’s push towards decarbonisation. To meet IMO’s 2050 ambitions of cutting GHG emissions by half from 2008 levels, carbon-neutral and zero-carbon ships need to be part of the world fleet.
Perhaps Singapore’s greatest accomplishment this past year was in taking on shipping’s largest humanitarian crisis – crew change amid the Covid-19 pandemic. With 400,000 seafarers stranded on ships, some months past their expiring contracts, it was Singapore that stepped up to the challenge, developing procedures to allow seafarers to change safely. Since March 2020, Singapore has facilitated more than 100,000 crew to be changed at the port. It is efforts such as this that keep Singapore among the world’s elite maritime nations.
If you want to see the maritime industry’s future, look to Singapore.
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