Singapore ready for methanol bunkering for container vessels at Tuas Port


X-Press Feeders, Global Energy Trading Pte Ltd (GET), and PSA Singapore last week successfully completed the first simultaneous methanol bunkering and cargo operation (SIMOPS) in at the new Tuas Port with the support of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), together with various government agencies and local research institutions.

The use of the mass flow metering (MFM) system for methanol, together with the use of digital bunkering, was also trialled during the SIMOPS. This follows the inaugural ship-to-containership methanol bunkering for the Laura Maersk in July 2023, and the successful ship-to-ship methanol bunkering of close to 1,340 metric tonnes of blended methanol for the Stena Prosperous on 24 May 2024.

An X-Press Feeder container vessel on her maiden voyage from Asia to Europe was successfully refuelled with approximately 300 metric tonnes (MT) of bio-methanol by GET, a MPA-licensed bunker supplier, using MT KARA, a dedicated IMO type II chemical bunker
tanker classified by Bureau Veritas and operated by Stellar Shipmanagement Services. The methanol fuel was supplied simultaneously while completing container moves, which is the
preferred mode of operation for container vessels to enhance operational efficiency.

The cargo operation was carried out with the use of PSA’s double trolley quay cranes and automated guided vehicles at Tuas Port. The SIMOPS was completed within one hour. With these
operations, the Port of Singapore is ready for commercial scale operations for shore-to-ship, ship-to-ship, and simultaneous operations for methanol, and the same methodology is being
followed for other new maritime fuels such as ammonia and hydrogen.

The ISCC-certified bio-methanol used for the SIMOPS was produced by OCI Global, a world-leading green methanol producer, and supplied via GET, a ISCC-certified supplier. The fuel was lifted at Vopak Penjuru Terminal, Singapore, which is a ISCC-certified storage
facility for biofuels and methanol.

Additional preparations are required compared to ship-to-ship bunkering given the safety modelling and port-side coordination. A Hazard Identification (HAZID) and Hazard and Operability Study (HAZOP) workshop was organised by MPA in the lead up to the SIMOPS. Adapting the experience from previous operations, participants from various government agencies, industry, and local research institutions, discussed potential risks and developed the corresponding prevention, control, and mitigation methods to address them. The bunkering plan was also discussed, and the various roles and responsibilities were clarified to ensure a coordinated cross-agency response in an event of an incident. To ensure all participants were familiar with the required procedures and safety measures, a tabletop exercise was also carried out with the relevant stakeholders after the workshop.

To ensure the safe conduct of the SIMOPS, MPA had worked closely with the bunkering stakeholders to ensure that crew members are competent and trained in handling methanol as a marine fuel and associated emergency responses. As part of the preparations for the methanol bunkering operations on 24 May and 27 May, the crew from Kara had also attended the MPA-approved training course for the handling of methanol as a fuel that was conducted by the Singapore Maritime Academy (SMA), which is part of the plan to upskill and enhance competencies for the safe and efficient operation of new zero or near-zero emission-powered vessels under the Marine Energy Training Facility (METF) that was announced at Singapore Maritime Week 2024.

For new fuels such as methanol, ammonia and hydrogen, all crew are expected to undergo new training; feedback from these initial batches will inform the course development by tripartite partners and our research community.

The Emergency Operations Centre set up at MPA’s Port Operations Control Centre monitored the operations, supported by a drone equipped with volatile organic compound detector and infrared camera to detect methanol leaks into the atmosphere and methanol flames in the event of an incident. MPA also worked with the Meteorological Service of Singapore to provide advance warning on lightning risk. Representatives from X-Press Feeders, GET, PSA, local research institutions, and other government agencies were also at the EOC as part of the emergency response team.

The methanol plume model, which was employed during the first methanol bunkering operation conducted in Singapore in July 2023, was enhanced to support the operation planning and incident response plan. The updated model incorporated specific SIMOPs parameters, including vessels’ structure, port configuration and infrastructure, and proximity of simultaneous activities being conducted during the SIMOPS. At steady state, the digital models will be used to support commercial scale operations in the Port of Singapore.

Separately, PSA Singapore and Pacific International Lines (PIL) have completed their first trial of low-carbon green shipments, in a joint effort to build more sustainable end-to-end supply chains. The pilot consists of warehouse-to-warehouse cargo flow from Singapore to Chongqing via the International Land-Sea Trade Corridor. The containers, bound for Mitsui Chemicals Asia Pacific, Ltd’s beneficial cargo owner, were transported via PIL’s vessel Kota Ratna and PSA’s coastal terminal and rail nodes in Singapore, Qinzhou and Chongqing. Green levers utilised in this pilot include the use of biofuel on the PIL vessel, Kota Ratna, as well as landside supply chain optimisation by PSA.