Biofuel Competition in Singapore as TotalEnergies Fuels COSCO Boxship

Singapore biofuel
COSCO Houston was the first containership to receive biofuels from TotalEnergies in Singapore (TotalEnergies)

Published Aug 25, 2022 8:47 PM by The Maritime Executive

The use of biofuel continues to expand across the shipping industry with TotalEnergies Marine Fuels reporting it completed both the first refueling of a COSCO Shipping Lines containership with sustainable marine biofuel in Singapore as well as its first fueling for a containership. The refueling, which was completed last month, comes as competing suppliers seek to expand the availability of biofuel in Singapore, which is the world’s largest bunker market.

The 4,250 TEU containership COSCO Houston was bunkered with TotalEnergies-supplied biofuel in Singapore waters, with a ship-to-ship transfer on July 11. The 49,900 dwt vessel, which was built 10 years ago, was supplied with Very Low Sulfur Fuel Oil (VLSFO) blended with 20 percent second-generation, waste-based and ISCC-certified Used Cooking Oil Methyl Ester (UCOME). The vessel was sailing to Jakarta, Indonesia and as with others that have been supplied with the biofuel blend, it was able to use the fuel without any modifications to its fuel systems.

Total estimated that from a well-to-wake assessment, the biofuel will reduce GHG emissions by approximately 17 percent compared with conventional fuel oil. The use of biofuels was supported by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and the involvement of local partners such as tank storage company, Vopak Terminals Singapore at Penjuru.

“This milestone bio-bunkering operation also further validates the important role of biofuels in decarbonizing conventional marine fuels, and the potential greenhouse gas reduction gains it can bring to existing vessels,” said Laura Ong, General Manager of Trading and Operations for Asia Pacific for TotalEnergies Marine Fuels.

Total started its biofuel operations in Singapore in March 2022 with the fueling of the MT Friendship, a 177,000 dwt bulk carrier owned by Seanergy Maritime Holdings and chartered by NYK Line to transport cargo provided by Anglo American. She was loaded with a 10 percent blend that was used during her two-way voyage between Singapore and South Africa. This was followed by the bunkering of a MOL-operated 19,900 dwt car and truck carrier, Heroic Ace. Like the COSCO containership, the car carrier received the second-generation 20 percent blend. 

While biofuel has primarily been available in Europe, the competition for the fuel is starting to grow in Singapore. In July, a partnership between biofuel manufacturer GoodFuels and Japan’s ITOCHU also completed their first bunkering operation in Singapore. They supplied a blended VLSFO to the 12-year-old, 179,376 dwt bulker, the Frontier Explorer, during its port call on July 5 while it was sailing from Australia to India.

The emergence of biofuels in Singapore is seen as a clear sign that it is becoming an accepted near-term alternative that permits shipping companies to take immediate first steps at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Many of the leading shipping companies have tested biofuel with all the results showing that it is a viable option for the world’s in-service fleets.