(EnergyAsia, November 3 2014, Monday) — Singapore, the world’s largest port for supplying shipping fuels, plans to add cleaner-burning liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the list by 2020, said its transport minister.

Speaking at an industry event, Lui Tuck Yew said Singapore might even offer LNG as a bunkering fuel before that as it plans to capitalise on the growing demand in the shipping industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He expects the country’s Maritime and Port Authority (MPA) to launch a pilot programme by early 2017 to provide qualified shipping companies up to S$2 million per vessel for up to six LNG-fuelled vessels to test safety procedures and standards. (US$1=S$1.27).

Giving more details, the MPA said LNG delivery is mostly undertaken through iso-tank containers, and transfers between ships, and between storage terminals and ships.

As part of the pilot programme, MPA said it will identify and evaluate the most cost-effective mode of LNG delivery to test and establish operational standards and procedures.

“This will ensure that Singapore is ready for LNG bunkering in the future,” it said.

Singapore sold 42.5 million tonnes of bunker fuel last year to retain its position as the world’s largest shipping fuel supplier and trader.

Mr Lui was the key speaker at last month’s Singapore International Bunkering Conference and Exhibition (SIBCON) which was attended by 1,600 delegates from over 50 countries.

At the event, The MPA said it held talks with Antwerp Port Authority, Port of Rotterdam and Port of Zeebrugge, three of Europe’s leading ports, on developing LNG as a bunkering fuel. They looked into the issues of harmonising technical standards and procedures and the challenges of risk management, emergency procedures and crew competency standards for international shipping.

Andrew Tan, MPA’s chief executive, said:

“As an alternative fuel, the shipping industry is looking to LNG as a cleaner marine fuel to meet international regulations. Given the international nature of shipping, we are excited to work with the Antwerp Port Authority, Port of Rotterdam and Port of Zeebrugge, to harmonise the global LNG bunkering standards.”