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Singapore calls on global ports to develop LNG bunkering

Singapore calls on global ports to develop LNG bunkering
The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has called on global hub ports to be ready for LNG bunkering, given the global move towards clean shipping and higher environmental standards.

The clean LNG offers significant reductions in harmful air emissions compared to the burning of high-sulphur bunker fuel. Currently, about 48 ports around the world are either LNG bunkering ready or have plans to do so.

“To prepare for the future, Singapore is taking steps to prepare itself to be a LNG bunker-ready port when LNG becomes more viable as an alternate fuel. This will enable us to service a range of vessel types and sizes seeking to take LNG as a marine fuel,” said Andrew Tan, chief executive of MPA.

“Singapore will be commencing our LNG bunkering pilot programme in 2017 as the platform to test the LNG bunkering procedures in Singapore,” he said in a speech at the 3rd Busan International Port Conference (BIPC) in South Korea.

The high costs involved in building or retrofitting LNG-fuelled vessels are stumbling blocks for the further development of LNG bunkering infrastructure in ports, Tan noted, and this necessitates governmental intervention to make LNG widely adopted as a marine fuel.

“For example, the EU is providing significant funding under its ‘Trans-European Transport Network’ that has seen support of various LNG-fuel related projects . Looking to the East, countries such as China, Korea, and Singapore have made commitments to further develop LNG bunkering infrastructure and/or support the building of LNG-fuelled vessels,” he said.

“MPA has been collaborating closely with industry partners, stakeholders as well as the Ports of Antwerp, Zeebrugge and Rotterdam to harmonise LNG bunkering procedures. MPA has already received proposals from potential LNG bunker suppliers and we have plans to issue LNG bunker supplier licences by 2016.”

Tan also observed that while LNG bunkering is likely to take off for short sea voyages in its initial stages, MPA hopes to promote greater discussions and cooperation amongst global hub ports interested in providing LNG bunkering for short sea and ocean going vessels.

“We could leverage on existing platforms including the Port Authorities Roundtable (PAR) which the Port of Busan participated in this year as well as the Singapore International Bunkering Conference 2016 (SIBCON) to exchange ideas, share best practices and even develop a regional roadmap for LNG bunkering,” he said.

Port authorities have an important role to play to complement the work of the IMO in driving overall effort to reduce shipping emissions at the international level, according to Tan.

The IMO has imposed a global sulphur cap of 3.5% from January 2012, down from 4.5%, and there are plans to further reduce sulphur emissions to 0.5% by either 2020 or 2025, depending on the IMO’s fuel availability study.