Singapore Port Positioning for Large Scale Methanol Bunkering

by Admin
Singapore port methanol bunkering at scale

X-Press Feeders, Global Energy Trading Pte Ltd (GET), and PSA Singapore (PSA) have achieved a significant milestone by successfully completing the first simultaneous methanol bunkering and cargo operation (SIMOPS) in Singapore on 27 May 2024. This groundbreaking operation took place at the new Tuas Port with full support from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), alongside various government agencies and local research institutions. The utilization of the mass flow metering (MFM) system for methanol, in conjunction with digital bunkering, was trialed during the SIMOPS. This achievement builds upon previous successes, including the inaugural ship-to-containership methanol bunkering for the Laura Maersk in July 2023 and the recent ship-to-ship methanol bunkering of approximately 1,340 metric tonnes of blended methanol for the Stena Prosperous on 24 May 2024.

During this historic operation, a X-Press Feeder container vessel embarked on its maiden voyage from Asia to Europe and was efficiently refueled with nearly 300 metric tonnes (MT) of bio-methanol by GET, an MPA-licensed bunker supplier. The bio-methanol was delivered using MT KARA, a dedicated IMO type II chemical bunker tanker classified by Bureau Veritas and operated by Stellar Shipmanagement Services. Remarkably, the methanol fuel was supplied simultaneously while the container vessel underwent container moves, showcasing the efficiency of SIMOPS, the preferred mode of operation for container vessels. Cargo operations were seamlessly executed with the utilization of PSA’s double trolley quay cranes and automated guided vehicles at Tuas Port. The entire SIMOPS was completed within a span of four hours, demonstrating the Port of Singapore’s readiness for commercial-scale operations for shore-to-ship, ship-to-ship, and SIMOPS for methanol, with similar methodologies being adopted for other emerging maritime fuels such as ammonia and hydrogen.

The ISCC-certified bio-methanol utilized for the SIMOPS was sourced from OCI Global, a renowned green methanol producer, and supplied through GET, an ISCC-certified supplier. The fuel was lifted at Vopak Penjuru Terminal, Singapore, which serves as an ISCC-certified storage facility for biofuels and methanol. This certification ensures compliance with international standards for sustainable feedstock and conversion processes, emphasizing the commitment to environmental sustainability throughout the supply chain.

Safety-First Approach

A Hazard Identification (HAZID) and Hazard and Operability Study (HAZOP) workshop was organized by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) in the lead-up to the simultaneous methanol bunkering and cargo operation (SIMOPS). Drawing from past experiences, participants from various government agencies, industry, and local research institutions convened to discuss potential risks and develop corresponding prevention, control, and mitigation methods. The bunkering plan underwent thorough scrutiny, with roles and responsibilities clarified to ensure a coordinated cross-agency response in the event of an incident. Following the workshop, a tabletop exercise was conducted with relevant stakeholders to ensure familiarity with required procedures and safety measures.

To ensure the safe execution of the SIMOPS, MPA collaborated closely with bunkering stakeholders to ensure crew members were competent and trained in handling methanol as a marine fuel and associated emergency responses. As part of the preparations, crew members from the vessel MT KARA attended MPA-approved training courses conducted by the Singapore Maritime Academy (SMA), part of the newly established Marine Energy Training Facility (METF) announced during Singapore Maritime Week 2024. Training encompassed handling not only methanol but also emerging fuels such as ammonia and hydrogen, reflecting industry shifts towards cleaner alternatives. Feedback from initial training batches will inform ongoing course development by tripartite partners and the research community.

The Emergency Operations Centre established at MPA’s Port Operations Control Centre closely monitored operations, aided by a drone equipped with volatile organic compound detectors and infrared cameras to detect methanol leaks and flames in the event of an incident. MPA also collaborated with the Meteorological Service of Singapore to provide advance warning on lightning risks. Representatives from key stakeholders, including X-Press Feeders, Global Energy Trading Pte Ltd (GET), PSA Singapore (PSA), local research institutions, and other government agencies, formed part of the emergency response team at the EOC.

The methanol plume model, initially employed during Singapore’s first methanol bunkering operation in July 2023, underwent enhancements to support operation planning and incident response during the SIMOPS. The updated model integrated specific SIMOPS parameters, including vessel structure, port configuration, infrastructure, and simultaneous activities. Ultimately, these digital models will support commercial-scale operations in the Port of Singapore, ensuring efficiency and safety in methanol bunkering activities.

Getting Ready for The Port of Singapore to Supply Methanol at Scale

Following the completion of the world’s first ship-to-containership methanol bunkering in Singapore last year, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) launched an expression of interest (EOI) for the supply of methanol as a marine fuel in Singapore. The response was significant, with 50 submissions received from over 60 regional and international companies, including energy companies, fuel suppliers, bunker traders, bunker operators, and storage companies. This strong industry interest signals clear business confidence in Singapore as a key offtake location for methanol and provides strong indications that the industry is preparing for methanol bunker demand to scale up in the coming years. MPA will call for applications for a license to supply methanol blends as a marine fuel in Singapore before the end of the year.

MPA is currently developing the Technical Reference for methanol bunkering, which will include the framework to govern the use of Mass Flow Metering (MFM) and digital bunkering for methanol. Additionally, MPA will study further enhancements for the IMO Type II chemical bunker tanker as part of its ongoing work to develop the methanol bunkering licensing framework and Port Limit Bunker Tanker requirements for methanol bunkering. Insights from the EOI submissions will also inform the development of the methanol bunkering regulatory framework to ensure the safe and efficient supply of methanol blends as a marine fuel in Singapore at a commercial scale.

MPA has implemented digital bunkering since 1 November 2023, making Singapore the first port in the world to commence end-to-end digital bunkering operations. As part of ongoing enhancements to allow MPA-approved digital bunkering solutions to be compatible for use with the bunkering of new fuels, the digital bunkering trial conducted as part of the SIMOPS has demonstrated the ability to transmit the essential methanol bunkering information electronically to various stakeholders and MPA, enabling near real-time visibility of the bunker delivery process. The potential to fully digitalize the bunker delivery process, including the bunkering of new fuels, will lead to significant time and cost savings for the entire maritime community and will be part of the licensing requirements.

Ensuring a Future-Ready Maritime Workforce to Operate Zero- or Near-Zero Emission-Powered Vessels

MPA, together with 22 partners, including leading global marine engine manufacturers, will establish the Marine Energy Training Facility (METF), which will collectively train over 10,000 seafarers and shore-based staff by the 2030s. The METF will be based on a decentralized network of training facilities in Singapore. It will tap on partners’ assets and technologies to train the workforce on the safe handling, emergency response, and incident management involving future marine fuels such as methanol, ammonia, and hydrogen.

Mr. Teo Eng Dih, Chief Executive, MPA, said “The successful execution of the SIMOPS is the outcome of many months of preparation for tripartite stakeholders to plan, prepare, and train to ensure the safety of the crew, port, and vessel, while maintaining a high level of efficiency. The learnings gained from these operations will help to further refine the various SOPs and safety measures. We thank all our SIMOPS partners in helping to achieve this and we look forward to working with other like-minded partners, including on the use of digital bunkering and mass flow meter solutions, to operationalize the delivery of the new marine fuels in Singapore.”

Mr. Francis Goh, Chief Operating Officer at X-Press Feeders, said “Today marks a historic milestone for both Singapore and the global maritime industry. Our vessel was not just the first to berth alongside here in Singapore and refueled with green methanol, which reduces carbon emissions by 65% as compared to conventional marine fuel, but we were also the first in Singapore to achieve this while simultaneously loading and discharging cargo. These achievements demonstrate Singapore’s position at the forefront of the global maritime industry’s transition to renewable fuels. By working together collaboratively, we can achieve even greater progress.”

Ms. Munee Chow, Group Business Manager of Global Energy Group, said “We would like to thank all partners for their tireless efforts contributing to the success in this groundbreaking SIMOPS methanol bunker delivery. Global Energy will continue bringing quality bunker service to support our partners’ changing needs on their path to decarbonization.”

Mr. Nelson Quek, Regional CEO Southeast Asia, PSA International, said “The successful completion of simultaneous cargo operations and methanol bunkering at PSA Tuas Port stands as a testament to our shared commitment to curb carbon emissions and adopt cleaner alternative fuels. PSA strives to strengthen our competitiveness as a leading transshipment hub facilitating global trade by working with like-minded partners to promote green and sustainable development that can help accelerate decarbonization across the entire maritime value chain.”

Kelvin Kang, General Manager, Stellar Shipmanagement, said “We are grateful for the support from MPA and other stakeholders on this methanol bunkering project, particularly in the areas of HAZID and HAZOP, safety requirements, and operational procedures. With the successful delivery of this project, we have enhanced our expertise in methanol bunkering operations. We are now confident in our ability to provide top-tier methanol bunkering supply services, aiding our partners in their decarbonization efforts.”

Mr. Bashir Lebada, Chief Executive Officer, OCI Methanol & HyFuels, said “As the global leader in green methanol, we’re excited to be fueling X-Press Feeders new methanol dual-fueled feeder ships with OCI Hyfuels green methanol. Our partnership starts today in Singapore and will grow over the coming year to include the supply of X-Press Feeders’ vessels in Rotterdam for the servicing of European ports. This marks another significant step towards maritime decarbonization, led by early movers like X-Press Feeders who are pioneering the use of dual-fuel vessels, and we’re proud to play our part in supporting the rollout of these future-proof vessels. We look forward to being the global partner of choice as the methanol-fueled fleet continues to grow rapidly and maritime decarbonization regulations come into effect.”

Mr. Rob Boudestijn, President of Vopak Singapore, said “We congratulate our esteemed partners on this significant milestone. As a reliable infrastructure provider for maritime bunkering over the past 40 years in Singapore, Vopak is gearing up to make all our terminals methanol-ready. This strategic initiative underscores our commitment to facilitating Singapore’s maritime decarbonization journey in the multi-fueled future, and we stand ready to scale up and support the methanol bunkering supply chain across all four of our terminals.”

X-Press Feeders Methanol Bunkering Singapore

Source MPA Singapore