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Singapore outlines commitment to LNG bunkering hub role

Wed 10 Oct 2018 by Mike Corkhill

Singapore outlines commitment to LNG bunkering hub role
The FueLNG newbuilding will be Singapore’s first dedicated LNG bunker vessel

Singapore, the world’s leading oil bunkering port by a wide margin, is moving ahead to ensure it is also one of the top fuelling stops for LNG-powered ships in the years ahead.

Details of the southeast Asian port’s commitment to LNG bunkering were the focus of attention at the 20th Singapore International Bunkering Conference and Exhibition (SIBCON 2018), held at the Resort World Sentosa centre last week.

Although Singapore’s commitment to LNG bunkering is at a relatively early stage and 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.

The first LNG bunker vessel (LNGBV) for operation in Singapore waters has now been ordered. In June FueLNG, a joint venture between Keppel Offshore & Marine and Shell Eastern Petroleum, contracted a 7,500-m3 LNGBV at the Keppel Singmarine yard in China.

The FueLNG vessel is set for a Q3 2020 completion and is likely to be followed into service shortly thereafter by a second LNG fueller. Also in June 2018, Total Marine Fuels agreed to long-term charter a purpose-built LNGBV from Pavilion Gas. The deal also includes an LNG supply arrangement under which Pavilion, backed by Temasek Holdings, will provide the LNG volumes required to bunker Total’s customer’s ships in Singapore.

Announcement of the newbuilding contract for the Pavilion LNGBV is imminent, as the Total time charter is set to commence in 2020.  

The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has played a key role in the initiatives to establish Singapore as an LNG bunker-ready port. Both FueLNG and Pavilion Gas have received grants of S$3.0M (US$2.2M) to put towards their LNGBV newbuildings as part of the MPA’s LNG Bunkering Pilot Programme.

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 this summer to Keppel SMIT Towage and Maju Maritime, and 15 truck-to-ship (TTS) 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.

The creation of the focus group was followed, in 2016, by awarding two LNG bunker supplier licenses, to FueLNG and Pavilion Gas, covering the provision of gas fuel to LNG-powered ships calling at the port and serving in port waters. The bunkers for all the LNG fuelling operations in the port will be sourced from the Singapore LNG Corp’s import terminal on Jurong Island.

In April 2017 Singapore LNG (SLNG) and MPA jointly launched the port’s first LNG road tanker loading facility, enabling TTS LNG bunkering operations in Singapore. The same month MPA launched Singapore’s first technical reference – TR56 – for LNG bunkering.

SLNG is currently modifying its terminal’s jetty arrangements to enable LNG vessels as small as 2,000 m3 to berth in a project due for completion in 2019.

During the SIBCON 18 event SEA\LNG, the multi-sector industry coalition promoting LNG as a marine fuel, announced that MPA had been welcomed as the association’s third port member, alongside the Port of Rotterdam and Yokohama-Kawasaki International Port Corp. 

All aspects of the ship/shore interface will be discussed at the LNG Ship/Shore Interface Conference Europe, 22-23 November 2018 in London.

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