With LNG-fuelled shipping on the rise, MPA is supporting bunker vessel newbuilds to help Singapore become a global bunkering hub for the fuel
Although the necessary infrastructure is not as advanced as that in Europe, the steps now being taken will help shipowners opting for gas-fuelled vessels as the way to comply with the 0.5% global sulphur cap which enters into force on 1 January 2020. The growing worldwide orderbook of dual-fuel ships includes many large vessels that will require significant volumes of LNG fuel.
Asia’s largest LNG bunker vessel will be deployed to the world’s largest bunker port, Singapore, after a subsidiary of Mitsui OSK Lines contracted Sembcorp Marine to build a 12,000-m3 LNG bunker vessel.
To be constructed at Sembcorp Marine Tuas Boulevard Yard for Indah Singa Maritime Pte Ltd, the LNG bunker vessel will be 112 m long and 22 m wide with two GTT Mark III Flex membrane tanks.
This will be the first LNG bunker vessel built by Sembcorp Marine, which will also fabricate the vessel’s membrane tanks under a licensing agreement with France’s GTT.
Mark III Flex membrane tanks have lower internal pressure, temperature and boil-off rate than IMO Type C tanks, which translates into greater tank durability, safer fuel transfer operations and reduced cargo loss through evaporation. The Mark III Flex membrane tanks also weigh less and occupy less ship space, allowing the vessel to carry more cargo and consume less fuel during transportation.
For cleaner propulsion, the LNG bunker vessel will have dual-fuel engines running on LNG or marine diesel oil.
When completed in early 2021, the vessel will go on long-term charter to Singapore state-owned Pavilion Gas Pte Ltd (PGPL) for deployment in Singapore.
Commenting on the contract for the new LNG bunker vessel, Sembcorp Marine president and chief executive Wong Weng Sun said, “This project marries Sembcorp Marine’s ship design and construction expertise with GTT’s industry-leading membrane tank system. We are confident the outcome will be a sophisticated newbuilding that not only delivers optimal technical performance, but also helps MOL and Pavilion Energy contribute to the expected standard of LNG bunkering operations in Singapore.”
MOL teamed up with Sembcorp Marine Specialised Shipbuilding, a subsidiary of Singapore-based Sembcorp Marine Group, to construct the vessel, and Sinanju Tankers, a major bunker barge company, for a partner of ship management. The new ship will be the second LNG bunkering vessel in Singapore and is slated to start services after its delivery to PGPL in early 2021.
It was also announced in June 2018 that Singapore’s first LNG bunker vessel was being built for FueLNG, a joint venture between Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd and Shell Eastern Petroleum.
Announced in June 2018, the 7,500-m3 vessel is being built to the MTD 7500U LNG propietary design from Keppel Offshore & Marine's design and development arm. It will be equipped with dual-fuel generator engines and propelled by a twin screw azimuthing propulsion system which allows it to perform a crabbing manouevre during bunkering operations reducing fuel consumption and emissions and minimising tug utilisation. The bunker vessel will be able to harness boil-off gas produced as a by-product of bunkering operations as well as evaporating LNG from its cryogenic tank, which would be flared off otherwise.
FueLNG chairman and Keppel Offshore & Marine chief executive Chris Ong said “This vessel, which will be the first of its kind in southeast Asia, will enable FueLNG to be the first in Singapore to provide ship-to-ship LNG bunkering services within the Singapore port.
“This demonstrates our commitment to global customers as the industry increasingly adopts cleaner fuel alternatives.
“Tapping on Keppel's shipbuilding expertise enables us to have a highly capable vessel that meets our requirements for safety and efficiency. Supported by Shell's experience, we aim to be a key driver in promoting LNG as marine fuel.
FueLNG director and Shell Downstream LNG general manager Lauran Wetemans said “I am pleased LNG will be available mid-2020 in Singapore.
“The decision to develop the LNG bunker vessel demonstrates the confidence FueLNG has in LNG as a marine fuel.
“Singapore is a key maritime hub and both partners will contribute specific expertise in the venture with Shell using its global experience to make LNG a reality.
“We continue to work closely with the MPA, the port operators and industry stakeholders to ensure LNG bunkering will be available."
MPA will provide a grant of up to S$3.0M (US$2.2M) towards the vessel as part of Singapore’s LNG bunkering pilot programme.
Speaking at the Singapore International Bunkering Conference and Exhibition in October 2018, organised by Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Dr Lam Pin Min gave further details of MPA’s preparations to make Singapore LNG ready. “MPA has made good progress on LNG bunkering in Singapore over the last few years.”
“To kick-start the use of LNG as a marine fuel, 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 15 LNG bunkering operations.
“We expect this number to grow as more LNG-fuelled vessels are delivered.”
The port authority is also co-funding the construction of eight LNG-fuelled vessels that will serve in local waters. The first two, a pair of tugs, were delivered in September last year to Keppel SMIT Towage and Maju Maritime, and 15 truck-to-ship LNG bunkering operations have so far been carried out with these vessels. Another member of this LNG-fuelled fleet will be a 7,900-dwt dual-fuel oil bunker vessel being built for Sinanju Tankers.
MPA took its first steps to promote LNG bunkering in 2014 when it formed a dual-fuel focus group with the Antwerp, Rotterdam and Zeebrugge port authorities. The initiative now consists of 11 ports and maritime administrations across Asia, Europe and North America.
One of focus group’s members is the Ports and Harbours Bureau of Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism. This agency has formed a working group with MPA and the two parties are currently assessing the feasibility of LNG bunkering for car carriers plying between Japan and Singapore.