INTERVIEW: Sing Fuels Eyes Further Acquisitions After Buying Greek Brokerage

by Jack Jordan, Managing Editor, Ship & Bunker
Tuesday June 7, 2022
  • Further acquisitions 'a key part' of expansion strategy
  • Next market expansion targets are Europe and China
  • Investigating ammonia, hydrogen and carbon capture for shipping

Marine fuels firm Sing Fuels -- now a hybrid company with both trading and broking elements after its acquisition of Prime's Bunkerplus Services on Tuesday -- sees further acquisitions as a key element of its growth strategy as it seeks to take on new customers in Europe and China.

The company announced its acquisition of Athens-based Prime's on Tuesday, saying the firm will now operate under the name Sing Fuels Pte Ltd (Hellas) with founder Irene Notias continuing to run the operation. The firm has been a 'long-term associate' of Sing Fuels, Vikash Dhanuka, CEO of the Singapore-based company, said in an interview with Ship & Bunker.

"Prime's local expertise and connections will enable Sing Fuels to grow in depth and extend the company's reach to create stronger ties and relationships in local markets," Dhanuka said.

"The partnership will also enable us to consolidate our business across different markets, while diversifying potential risks the company could be exposed to."

Consolidation Continues

Bunker industry watchers have long been predicting a wave of consolidation in the sector after the IMO 2020 transition and the extreme price volatility from the COVID-19 pandemic and the current Russia crisis, and this latest acquisition appears to be part of that trend. Sing Fuels plans further similar moves, Dhanuka said.

"Acquisitions will be a key part of our global business development and expansion strategy," he said.

"We are actively working towards other partnerships with other independent brokerages and traders with strong local knowledge and relationships, and who share our vision and ethos, in the near term to accelerate our growth as we look to grow a global alliance."

The firm's entry into the Greek market marks Sing Fuels's sixth geographical location, after Singapore, South Africa, the UAE, the UK and the US.

"We hope to use this partnership in Greece as a springboard to expand into the neighbouring and overseas markets," Dhanuka said.

"We are continually exploring opportunities to expand to other markets.

"Growth in Europe is currently one focus area for us, China is another country we are actively exploring as it is the second-largest market for the industry.

"We are also actively trading alternative fuels as part of our plans to diversify our business."

Hybrid Model

The addition of Prime's marks the first foray for Sing Fuels into marine fuels broking rather than trading. This move from a pure trader to a hybrid business model follows a recent trend from some of the world's largest bunker firms in recent years, including KPI OceanConnect and Dan-Bunkering, and removes another name from the shrinking list of pure brokerages.

Sing Fuels particularly valued Prime's as an acquisition target because of its close business relationships as a broker, Dhanuka said.

"Traditionally in the past we have expanded by opening offices in new markets and countries and hiring individual traders," he said.

"The research and analytics we gathered during the pandemic has taught us that to grow in depth, extending our reach to create stronger ties and relationships in local markets will be key, such as what we have done with our partnership with Prime's.

"In line with our ambitions for global expansion, the company will leverage Prime's experience and strong local relationships to grow the business."

Decarbonisation Plans

One of the largest challenges now facing Sing Fuels will be how to address the changing demand requirements for marine fuels as the shipping industry seeks to eliminate its net carbon emissions.

The firm is focusing both on improving its own environmental credentials as well as investigating future fuels and technologies, Dhanuka said.

"Sing Fuels is embedding practical sustainability measures into key operational areas of our business," he said.

"Our product development and offering is driven by the demand by our customers and our commitment to support them in realising their sustainability goals.

"We are also developing a carbon offsetting platform for our customers to be able to offset voluntary carbon emissions as well as offsetting towards regulatory markets. 

"In line with the International Maritime Organization's decarbonisation ambitions, we are actively exploring alternate platforms for championing investments in liquid ammonia, green hydrogen, low carbon vessels, and carbon capture technologies. 

"We are also focusing on the development of microgrids with vanadium batteries, via a joint venture with VFlowTEch, with the aim to provide green energy solutions to the shipping industry and port infrastructure."