Transiting Towards a Digital and Low-Carbon Future Transforming the Bunker Industry amidst a Global Pandemic

06 October 2020

      The 21st edition of the Singapore International Bunkering Conference and Exhibition (SIBCON) returns from 6 to 8 October 2020. Organised by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), SIBCON 2020 takes place on an interactive virtual platform for the first time. 

2     In line with growing industry focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the theme of SIBCON 2020 is ‘Powering Fuels of the Future, Driving towards Decarbonisation’. The conference covers topics ranging from emerging fuels and responsible shipping to issues on compliance and the impact of changes to global trade patterns. 

3     The biennial event gathers prominent industry players and thought leaders of the marine fuel industry across the global bunkering community online to address challenges and opportunities to transform the bunkering sector amidst COVID-19 circumstances. Around 1,200 delegates from 42 countries participated in the virtual conference. They include bunker suppliers and traders, shipowners and operators, surveyors, port operators, representatives from oil and gas majors, as well as finance and legal professionals. The online platform Swapcard enables participants to customise their agenda, tune in to sessions on demand, participate in interest group discussions and network based on artificial intelligence-powered recommendations. 

4     Delivering the opening address, Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, shared that the Port of Singapore saw year-on-year growth in bunker sales. Singapore remains the largest bunkering hub in the world. Bunker sales volume in Singapore stood at 32.9 million tonnes from January to August 2020, a 5.3% increase in volume from the same period in 2019. 

5     He added that there are opportunities to transform the bunkering industry in the areas of decarbonisation and digitalisation. He challenged participants to re-envision the industry for the future. 


Sea Transport (Bunkering) Industry Digital Plan

6     Mr Chee also announced the launch of the Sea Transport (Bunkering) Industry Digital Plan (IDP). MPA, in partnership with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Enterprise Singapore and SkillsFuture Singapore, rolled out the IDP as part of the SMEs Go Digital programme to support the digitalisation efforts of the bunkering sector (please refer to Annex A and B for the Sea Transport (Bunkering) IDP fact sheet and videos respectively). Sea Transport IDPs, which are aligned with the Sea Transport Industry Transformation Map, were introduced for the ship agency and harbour craft sectors in 2019. Developed in consultation with the industry, IDPs provide SMEs with a step-by-step guide on the digital solutions to adopt at each stage of their growth. 

7     The Sea Transport (Bunkering) IDP will help bunker suppliers, traders, barge operators and surveyors identify digital solutions that meet their business needs. The Government will co-fund the adoption of pre-approved digital solutions, which include the bunker barge planning system, bunker fuel data profiling and bunker sales management system.

8     Eligible SMEs can receive funding support of up to S$30,000 each per year, which covers up to 50% of hardware costs and 70% of adoption costs for software subscription, professional services and training.


Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) as a key transitional fuel

9     In line with meeting the International Maritime Organization’s greenhouse gas emissions target, LNG serves as a viable and clean transitional marine fuel to reduce carbon emissions from ships. Singapore has co-developed standards and procedures for LNG bunkering, including safe simultaneous operations (“SIMOPS”), with industry and government partners. To date, Singapore has safely conducted more than 270 truck-to-ship LNG bunkering operations. 

10    Singapore will have an LNG bunker supply capacity of up to 1 million tonnes per annum from 2021. This quantity translates to about 300 ship-to-ship LNG bunkering operations annually. To facilitate regular ship-to-ship LNG bunkering in the Port of Singapore, two MPA co-funded LNG bunker vessels will be delivered to Singapore by 2021. Furthermore, MPA will be launching a Request for Proposal in the coming weeks to issue additional LNG bunker supplier licences to support growing demand for LNG bunkers. 

Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) on Future Fuels Port Network

11    Witnessed by Mr Chee, MPA, together with the Port of Rotterdam Authority and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Japan, signed an MoC at SIBCON 2020 to form a Future Fuels Port Network. The port network will align the efforts of signatory partners in driving the development of new fuels across participating ports.

12    Under the MoC, parties will undertake the development of a roadmap on the adoption of clean marine fuels in support of decarbonisation. Besides research and development, parties will cooperate on possible joint bunkering pilot runs with identified shipping lines to support the decarbonisation of the shipping industry.

Pilot Trials on Biofuels

13    Complementing the recent joint call for proposals on the electrification of harbour craft by MPA and the Singapore Maritime Institute (SMI), MPA and SMI also commenced the ‘Biofuel Compatibility Study for Singapore Harbour craft’. Led by the Nanyang Technological University’s Maritime Energy and Sustainable Development Centre of Excellence, the study focuses on alternative energy sources for Singapore’s harbour craft sector.
14    The study will examine the environmental, technical, operational and economic viability of bunkering biofuels. It is part of MPA's R&D efforts to study alternative marine fuels and energy decarbonisation processes such as electrification and on-board carbon capture.


Memorandum of Understanding on Oil Spill Claims Compensation in Singapore

15    At the side-lines of SIBCON 2020, MPA and ITOPF Ltd renewed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on oil spill claims compensation in Singapore. Witnessed by Captain Daknashamoorthy Ganasen, MPA’s Senior Director (Operations and Marine Services), Captain Kevin Wong, MPA’s Port Master, and Mr Richard Johnson, ITOPF’s Technical Director, signed the MoU.

16    The MOU is an agreed schedule of rates for the resources deployed to conduct clean-up operations during an oil spill. It facilitates the expeditious settlement of claims after an oil spill incident. The renewal is supported by the International Group of Protection and Indemnity Clubs and the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund.

17    Ms Quah Ley Hoon, Chief Executive of MPA, said, “As a maritime nation, Singapore is committed to promoting the environmental sustainability of the maritime industry. We welcome like-minded partners to come on board and cooperate with us on the development and supply of clean marine fuels in reducing the impact of shipping on the environment.”

18    Mr Lew Chuen Hong, Chief Executive Officer of IMDA, said, “For the Port of Singapore to maintain its global competitiveness, SMEs that provide critical support in the maritime ecosystem like the bunkering operators must keep up w]ith digital transformation. The introduction of the Sea Transport (Bunkering) IDP will help guide Bunkering SMEs to use digital solutions to optimise their support services such that more ships are attracted to call on Singapore.”

19    Mr Allard Castelein, Chief Executive Officer of Port of Rotterdam Authority, said, “We live in extraordinary and pressing times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is also the moment to re-think our future and ensure we undertake proper measures that both address global warming and the global economic downturn. The Future Fuels Port Network that we launch today, is an example how ports around the world can make a significant contribution in advancing decarbonisation of the global maritime sector. We can make a tangible difference with a clear roadmap and developing new infrastructure to enable supply and use of low-carbon and clean marine fuels.”

20    Mr Takada Masayuki, Director-General of the Port and Harbours Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Japan, said, “Japan is pushing GHG reduction forward under the strong leadership of the government in response to the IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships. Alternative fuels without emitting GHG will be used as marine fuels to achieve the reduction. In order to promote this utilisation, it is important that ports have a bunkering facility for alternative fuel. I strongly believe that Japan can contribute to the formulation of international standards for future marine fuels’ bunkering by the technical capabilities and knowledge developed through the projects of Tokyo Bay and Ise/Mikawa bay regarding LNG bunkering. Japan is going to contribute to the promotion of clean alternative fuels as marine fuels through its participation to the cooperation network of ports based on the MoC.”

21    Captain Daknashamoorthy, Chairman of the SIBCON Steering Committee, said, “SIBCON 2020 has reinvented the way we connect with a global audience and it has demonstrated Singapore’s thought leadership in the bunkering domain. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about new opportunities for us to work closely with stakeholders to transform the bunkering sector on the digitalisation and decarbonisation fronts, while continuing to uphold quality and transparency in Singapore’s bunkering sector. Doing so enhances business and operational efficiency at the Port of Singapore, promotes environmental sustainability of the maritime industry and enhances the attractiveness of Singapore as the world’s leading bunkering hub.”