SMW Interview: Ship & Bunker Discusses Preparations for the 2020 0.5% Sulfur Cap on Bunkers With the MPA

Monday April 24, 2017

Singapore Maritime Week (SMW), which is taking place this week, will see a range of activities and events organised by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), industry stakeholders, and research and educational institutions.

Ahead of the week long programme of conferences, dialogues, exhibitions, and social events, Ship & Bunker spoke with Parry Oei, Director (Port Services), Chief Hydrographer, MPA, to discuss what is sure to be one of SMW's popular discussion points - preparations for the 0.50 percent sulfur cap on bunkers coming into force in 2020.

S&B - Can you discuss the programmes MPA has in place to prepare for 2020 and the expected shifts in product demand.

MPA is working with our bunker suppliers to make available 0.5 percent compliant fuels by 2020. We understand from the industry that these fuels are likely to come from various sources, depending on commercial considerations. We note that vessels will have the option to use 0.5 percent compliant fuels, MGO, or alternative fuels such as LNG. They will also have the option to adopt an exhaust gas cleaning system (often referred to as scrubbers) for use with high sulphur fuels. The uptake of each option will depend on various ship-owners' commercial considerations such as the age of the vessel, fuel price availability and operational costs.

In our engagement with bunker suppliers and traders, we understand that they will either produce the compliant fuels by blending in Singapore or import the fuels from overseas facilities. The industry is confident that compliant fuels would be available in Singapore in 2020.

S&B - What plans does MPA have to update and implement technology, legislation, and standards for the mandatory use of Mass Flow Meters with respect to the expected diverse range of compliant 2020 bunker fuels.

MPA is currently conducting test-bedding projects to determine the feasibility of the MFM being used for MGO and other compliant fuels, as the viscosity of MGO and the compliant fuels are expected to be similar. The test-bedding projects are expected to complete by Q3 2017.

MPA will work with SPRING Singapore's Technical Committee for Bunkering to enhance the Technical Reference for Bunker Mass Flow Metering (TR 48), to address issues related to MGO and compliant fuels that could be identified during the test-bedding projects. As part of the licensing requirements, licensed bunker suppliers are required to adhere to TR 48 while ensuring that their bunker fuel adhere to the specifications provided in ISO 8217 (Petroleum products- Fuels (class F)- Specifications of marine fuels).

In addition, during recent IMO discussions, we understand that the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) would be reviewing the ISO 8217, taking into account the implementation of the 0.5 percent sulphur limit.

S&B - Can you give an update on MPA's LNG bunkering trial and when we can expect LNG bunkering in Singapore?

Singapore will be ready to provide LNG bunkering via truck-to-ship in the near future. We have two licensed LNG bunker suppliers, Pavilion Gas and FueLNG (a joint venture between Shell and Keppel) who are working actively with partners and agencies to develop the supply chain to carry out truck-to-ship bunkering operations. The construction of the LNG truck loading facility which is co-funded by MPA, was completed on 31 Dec 2016 and is now operational.

The Technical Reference (TR) for LNG bunkering, the world's first national standard for LNG bunkering will be completed and ready for industry use soon. The document will set out the standards and procedures for industry players to adhere to when conducting LNG bunkering operations.

Following encouraging response to MPA's S$12 Million co-funding programme to build LNG-fuelled vessels, Singapore will see two tug boats and three bunker tankers supplying conventional fuel coming on-stream in 2018.

These first-movers successfully making the switch to LNG will encourage others in the harbour craft community to adopt cleaner fuels in our port. With the commencement of the LNG bunkering pilot programme in 2017, we will gain operational experience and continue to widen and strengthen Singapore's capabilities in the areas of LNG bunkering. In 2017, LNG bunker operations will be conducted for vessels that pass through the Port of Singapore to lift LNG bunkers. 

As demand for LNG as a marine fuel grows in tandem with global industry demand, Singapore will work towards providing LNG bunkering on a larger scale.

S&B - What agreements, collaborations, etc. does MPA have in place with other ports in the above areas?

In 2014, MPA formed a Port Focus Group with Antwerp Port Authority, Port of Rotterdam Authority, Port of Zeebrugge, JAX Chamber and Norwegian Maritime Authority to harmonise LNG bunkering standards and procedures. The document was launched in Oct 2016 at the Singapore International Bunkering Conference (SIBCON) and can be used by ports as a baseline for developing LNG bunkering procedures.

During SIBCON 2016, MPA also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to expand the Port Focus Group to include the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan and the Ulsan Port Authority of South Korea. The key objective was to have a network of LNG bunker-ready ports by 2020. We now have eight members in this group with increased representation from Asian ports.

Through the MOU, we will have: (1) a network of eight LNG bunker-ready ports across the East and the West to encourage the adoption of LNG bunker by ship owners, (2) deepen cooperation and information sharing in relation to LNG bunkering and (3) promote the adoption of LNG as a marine fuel by coordinating with international organisations and private operators.