Biofuel initiative applies pressure on owners to adopt green bunkers

By selling direct to shippers GoodFuels hopes to fuel demand for its bunkers. Credit GoodFuels.
By selling direct to shippers GoodFuels hopes to fuel demand for its bunkers. Credit GoodFuels.

Dutch biofuel trader GoodFuels Marine aims to shake up the bunkering industry by marketing its fuels directly to shippers, applying further pressure on owners to use clean fuels. In addition, it is offering verification of the fuels used to transport a cargo through the bunker provider’s partnership in blockchain developments from Denmark.

GoodFuels was established in 2015 to offer high quality, sustainable biofuels to the marine industry, and the company has had some success with both Rotterdam and Amsterdam ports switching to the biofuel, along with the Dutch Coast Guard and Dutch dredging company Boskalis.

Under this new initiative, the biofuels are being marketed directly to cargo owners who can verify that their shipments were made using biofuels through the blockchain system that GoodFuels has established with Danish tech company Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration (BLOC). So far, local Dutch businesses have signed up to the carbon-neutral programme, as has chocolatier Tony’s Chocolonely, and clothing company Mystic.

GoodFuels’ CEO Dirk Kronemeijer said that he expects two international companies to sign up to the project within the next month, but would not reveal who the companies were. However, he did confirm that the delivery of bunker fuel that took place 7 September to a Samskip vessel was the company’s first delivery using the new verifiable approach to bunkering biofuels, and the system will allow cargo interests to verify that the fuel is manufactured from sustainably sourced materials.

GoodFuels said its biofuels are manufactured from waste oils, woodchips, forestry waste, and other waste materials, and that the quality of the fuels is similar to marine diesel, though it is currently produced at a higher cost.

However, the fuels offer significantly reduced SOx, NOx, and particulate emissions, while the carbon emissions are reduced by more than 90%, according to Kronemeijer. He added that these fuels are “drop-in fuels” and can be used on vessels currently operating without modification. The company expects that, following the introduction of the 2020 sulphur cap, demand will increase rapidly as the price of conventional fuel and biofuels converge.

“We are ramping up production as fast as we can,” said Kronemeijer, adding that the company has another project in Singapore which has an end client in mining firm BHP Billiton with the expectation that there will be other outlets in the future as the expected demand increases.

Fuelling that demand is the Dutch company’s main concern today and GoodFuels’ head of innovation Bart Hellings told IHS Markit, “Blockchain [in this instance] is important because it can make the entire fuel supply chain transparent.”

Hellings said that terminal operators, tank storage facilities, fuel producers bunker barges, and testing laboratories will all provide a control for each other and the whole transaction from beginning to end is transparent on the blockchain system.

GoodFuels has worked with BLOC to develop the digital technology that will allow for the visibility right along the supply chain and as the system develops the trust will develop with it.

BLOC’s blockchain-based bunkering system mirrors the current paper-based system, so that users will understand the various elements to the transactions, but each element of the transaction is verified by all the parties and each block cannot be changed once it has been verified. If a problem arises with the quality of the fuel, it is then possible to revert to the blockchain to find where the testing error occurred.

“Everything is stored digitally so every step is quantifiable and specified so we can trace where an error occurred, and every step is known through the lab analysis,” confirmed Hellings.