Singapore Ammonia Bunkering Pilot Before End-2023 'Not Realistic': MPA

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Monday May 1, 2023

The Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) of Singapore has warned the marine fuels industry not to expect ammonia bunkering too soon.

Last week the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) announced the results of its ammonia bunkering safety study with DNV. The organisation said it was aiming for the first ship-to-ship pilot ammonia transfer to take place in Singapore by the end of 2023.

The MPA has now suggested the timeline may not be that short.

"There were recent media posts and reports suggesting that Singapore was ready to conduct the first transfer of ammonia in Singapore's port waters before end-2023," the MPA said in an emailed statement on Monday.

"These articles also highlighted that 'the risk identified for conducting (ammonia-related) pilots in the Port of Singapore were found to be low or mitigable, thus paving the way for a pilot project to take place at three identified sites'.

"These views do not represent the assessment of MPA and other government agencies – the timeline before end-2023 is not realistic and should not prejudge the outcomes of the EOI, as well as further assessments and standards development by MPA and the relevant agencies."

Ammonia's lack of associated carbon emissions make it an attractive prospect as a future marine fuel, but its toxicity will prove challenging in the short term. Small spills of ammonia could easily cause deaths or severe injuries to nearby seafarers, as well as causing significant damage to the marine environment.

Research and development work is currently being carried out into how to overcome this challenge and safely bunker and handle ammonia at sea, and many in the industry are confident that the problem is solvable.

"MPA is committed to decarbonising the maritime sector and international shipping, and looks forward to working with partners to advance this effort in a safe, secure and sustainable manner," the MPA said in the statement.

"We remain open to the use of different alternative fuels which can reduce the maritime industry's carbon emissions."