Bunkering hub Singapore readies itself for 2020

The world’s top bunkering hub
The world’s top bunkering hub

Singapore, the world’s top bunkering hub, has announced several initiatives to ready itself for the International Maritime Organization’s upcoming global sulphur cap on marine fuels.

At the Singapore International Bunkering Conference and Exhibition (SIBCON) held in Singapore this week, several bunker suppliers and oil majors said they were ready to supply fuels that comply with the 0.5% sulphur limit by the 1 January 2020 deadline. The suppliers include Shell, ExxonMobil, and BP, all of which have a significant refining and/or trading presence in Singapore.

Local regulator the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) will publish an information sheet, along with a list of licensed bunker suppliers of low-sulphur fuels in the city-state, by mid-2019. These will be available online.

The MPA is collaborating with industry figures to map out the future of Singapore’s bunker industry through drivers such as digitalisation and innovation, transparency, and productivity. It is expected to be completed in late 2019.

Previous efforts by the MPA include a Singapore-initiated focus group aimed at bolstering liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering efforts. The group was formed in 2014 and had 11 members by 2017. It gained an additional member this year, the Suez Canal Economic Zone Authority, also the first Middle Eastern member to join the group.

Besides LNG, the MPA supports the development of other alternative marine fuels and has allocated SGD5 million (USD3.7 million) to the Green Energy Programme for this purpose. Companies can tap the funds for research and development of cleaner marine-fuel solutions in Singapore.

Concurrently, the MPA has joined SEALNG, a global coalition of players in the LNG shipping value chain. They collaborate on driving the widespread adoption of LNG as a marine fuel. By joining SEALNG, the MPA hopes to foster greater confidence in the availability and reliability of LNG.

Meanwhile, the authority is also on track to implement the mandatory use of mass flowmeters on all bunker tankers delivering distillates by 1 July 2019. It has begun acceptance tests of the meters on bunker tankers for the delivery of distillates. The first was successfully completed in September and the MPA is working closely with shipowners to schedule tests for all distillate bunker tankers.

In the coming months, the MPA will pilot electronic bunker delivery notes designed to provide greater productivity, efficiency, and transparency in the bunkering process. The electronic notes enable important bunkering information to be transmitted almost instantaneously to buyers and sellers. The MPA will continue to work with the industry to roll out this initiative as early as 2020.

Separately, the MPA and Singapore Shipping Association have formed a joint industry working group to enhance the integrity and transparency of the bunker supply chain in Port of Singapore. The group’s efforts are geared towards providing greater assurance and confidence in preventing marine fuel theft. These revolve around developing and recommending pragmatic measures in the short and long term.

“In light of the International Maritime Organization’s global sulphur limit from 1 January 2020, Singapore is committed to ensuring a sufficient and broad range of solutions is available to shipowners,” said MPA chief executive Andrew Tan.

“As the world’s leading bunkering hub, the MPA will continue working closely with all stakeholders to ensure that Singapore is well positioned for 2020 and beyond.”