Vopak joins Itochu on feasibility of ammonia fueling at Port of Singapore

Click to enlarge. Vopak’s Banyan Terminal in Singapore. Source: Vopak LinkedIn update June 16, 2020

Last week, Itochu Corporation announced an agreement with Vopak, the oil and chemical storage tank and terminal operator, “to jointly study the feasibility of developing an infrastructure” at Vopak’s Banyan Terminal, leading to the “establishment of supply chain of ammonia marine fuel in Singapore.”

Itochu Corporation is a large Japanese trading company; Itochu Enex is its energy trading subsidiary. Both companies are participants in a consortium that intends to demonstrate a maritime vessel using ammonia fuel and, in addition, to develop the necessary fuel supply chain and infrastructure. This consortium was announced at the end of April 2020, and we reported on it in greater detail in the article Maritime Ammonia: ready for demonstration.

This new collaboration with Vopak is a “key element of the integrated project with development of zero-emission ship.”

Vopak (or Royal Vopak) is, according to its website, “the world’s leading independent tank storage company … With over 400 years of history and a focus on sustainability, we ensure safe, clean and efficient storage and handling of bulk liquid products and gases.” Since early 2020, Vopak has been a member of the Ammonia Energy Association; it is also actively supporting other hydrogen carrier technologies, including as an investor in Hydrogenious LOHC Technologies.

Vopak is participating in this project through Vopak Terminals Singapore, its joint venture with Port of Singapore Authority (PSA, part of PSA International). PSA is “the world’s busiest transhipment hub – accounting for almost one-seventh of the world’s total container transhipment throughput and more than 4% of global container throughput.”

Itochu’s announcement describes the role of each party in the feasibility study:

ITOCHU will promote (i) the development of off-shore facility such as floating tank and/or fuel supply ship together with ITOCHU ENEX and other partners in Singapore and (ii) the integrated project, leading the formation of partnerships in Japan and overseas by making use of networks with various industries / companies such as shipper, shipping company, ammonia producer and/or any other parties related to ammonia fuel supply chain, owning and operate ammonia fueled ships, and jointly developing a facility for supplying ammonia fuel for ships with ITOCHU ENEX.

VOPAK will support ITOCHU in the feasibility study and promote the development of an independent, on-shore facility for the storage and handling of ammonia with loading / un-loading facilities in Singapore by tapping its ammonia storage & handling expertise in its Banyan Terminal in Singapore.

ITOCHU Corporation press release, ITOCHU group and Vopak Singapore to sign Memorandum of Understanding to study ammonia marine fuel supply chain in Singapore, June 12, 2020

While much of the drive to decarbonize the maritime sector focuses on the IMO’s 2050 targets, its GHG Strategy also includes nearer-term goals. Itochu’s announcement, and its drive to develop the infrastructure and fuel supply chain, emphasize the need for “early adoption” — not only so that enough long-lived assets will be in place by 2050, but also so that the industry can meet its emission reduction targets in 2030.

This strategy sets targets to reduce CO2 emissions per transport work – as an average across international shipping – by at least 40% by 2030 (compared to 2008 levels), by 50% by 2050, and to phase them out entirely (zero-emissions) during this century. In order to achieve these goals, the early adoption of ammonia as a suitable zero emission, alternative fuel for marine fuel in ships is one of the key elements.

ITOCHU Corporation press release, ITOCHU group and Vopak Singapore to sign Memorandum of Understanding to study ammonia marine fuel supply chain in Singapore, June 12, 2020

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