Study paves the way towards ammonia bunkering pilots in Singapore

Concepts for possible ammonia bunkering operations in Singapore. Figure 1.1 from Ammonia bunkering pilot safety study final report (GCMD, May 2023).
Click to enlarge. Concepts for possible ammonia bunkering operations in Singapore. Figure 1.1 from Ammonia bunkering pilot safety study final report (GCMD, May 2023).

The Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation released the public findings from its Ammonia bunkering pilot safety study last month. A thorough Quantitative Risk Assessment process identified two sites in Singapore where pilots involving cross-dock breakbulk and shore-to-ship bunkering could take place, with minimal upfront investment. A third site where ship-to-ship breakbulk and bunkering could take place (Raffles Reserve Anchorage) was also included in the study scope. A HAZID process then identified & assessed 400 operational and locational risks, finding them all to be low or mitigable. Subject to regulatory approval, a proxy pilot involving a ship-to-ship transfer of ammonia is planned at some point in the future, with the aim of building stakeholder confidence. Study outcomes also include:

  • A publicly-available guidebook for custody transfer requirements, bunkering procedures, safety precautions, and as a competency framework to train personnel.
  • A curriculum for training mariners at the Singapore Maritime Academy.
  • A partnership for GCMD with Oil Spill Response Limited to develop emergency response procedures.
  • And the submission of the report as a draft technical reference to the Standards Development Organisation of the Singapore Standards Council’s Chemical Standards Committee (CSC).

GCMD’s CEO Lynn Loo stresses that, while progress to date has been impressive, it has also been deliberately incremental. A significant body of work remains to be done with local stakeholders and regulators before any of the pilot bunkering projects are realised.

The decision to conduct this study came in the early days of GCMD. While ammonia as an alternative marine fuel was already being discussed at that time, it wasn’t known whether, where, or how ammonia bunkering could be carried out safely.

This study is not meant to be exhaustive or definitive, it is meant to pave the way for GCMD’s pilot to demonstrate ammonia transfer in the port waters of Singapore. Other sites that may be suitable for ammonia bunkering pilots with additional infrastructure buildout were not part of this study.

Progress is incremental. We see this report as a critical step, of many still to come, in readying the maritime ecosystem for ammonia bunkering. And it is by starting now and working together that we can successfully navigate the complexities of the energy transition.

Professor Lynn Loo, CEO at the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation in a foreword to the final Ammonia bunkering pilot safety study report, 27 April 2023

The report notes that ammonia will likely represent 10% of all marine fuels bunkered in Singapore in 2035, rising to 37% in 2050. This latter value will amount to nearly 50 million tonnes of ammonia fuel. Over the next few decades, development of a strong regulatory framework combined with a focus on infrastructure buildout, operational readiness and competency-building will be critical. The study also forecasts that demand for ammonia bunker fuel will remain relatively low (~1 million tonnes per year) until the mid-2030s, at which point the suite of current challenges (high costs, incomplete supply chains and technical unreadiness) should be overcome.

Learn more this August

At our upcoming Ammonia Energy APAC conference, GCMD’s Chief Technical Officer Dr. Sanjay Kuttan joins us in-person to explore the report and answer your key questions. Looking towards a ship-to-ship transfer of ammonia and pilot bunkering operations in Singapore, what work remains to be done? All the identified risks may have been classed as low or mitigable, but what are the greatest challenges in terms of infrastructure, technology, safety and industry acceptance? What can the ammonia energy community do to contribute to further progress in Singapore. Explore these ideas and more in Newcastle, Australia from Wednesday the 16th of August: early-bird tickets on sale now.

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