(EnergyAsia, April 20 2012, Friday) — The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has established a Joint Industry Project (JIP) to investigate the operational feasibility of developing liquefied natural gas (LNG) into a shipping fuel in Singapore in collaboration with Det Norske Veritas (DNV) Clean Technology Centre and 21 industry partners.

The JIP, co-funded through MPA’s MINT fund, kicked off in January 2012 to provide recommendations to the Singapore government authorities on promoting LNG bunkering, ensuring operational safety, alignment with industry expectations and best practice, and compliance with relevant international rules, regulations and standards.

In fuelling ships, the supplier transfers LNG fuel from trucks, barges or onshore tanks. Switching from conventional marine fuel to LNG fuel provides both environmental and economic benefits to shipowners and the public, said DNV.

The shipping industry is looking for cleaner marine fuel to meet increasingly stringent international environmental regulations, with LNG a likely candidate as it produces less emission when burned compared to marine diesel oil. The shipping industry is subject to progressively more stringent legislations including global cap on fuel sulphur content, emission taxes and controls, and regulations on particulate matters.

According to DNV, LNG-fuelled propulsion has been demonstrated to meet the strictest environmental regulations and to be technically feasible.

As proof, DNV said there are 25 LNG-fuelled ships operating in Norway’s Emission Control Area and bunkering from shore facilities. Shipping firms are increasing their demand for the design and building of LNG-fuelled ships.

But there are barriers facing the adoption of LNG as a shipping fuel, said DNV.

This includes insufficient local LNG supply, inadequate bunkering infrastructure and a lack of regulatory schemes for both shore-based and ship-to ship bunkering. The viability of LNG-fuelled shipping also depends on the simultaneous development of the entire value chain as individual stakeholders face investment and operational risks if others do not join in.

DNV said the LNG bunkering JIP was conceived to address these feasibility issues and to reaffirm Singapore’s commitment towards maritime sustainable growth. As the world’s largest marine fuel bunkering port, it is strategically important to enable Singapore to offer LNG bunkering in the near future.

“With the growing need to reduce the environmental impact of shipping and its related activities, Joint Industry Projects such as these allow us to evaluate the feasibility of alternative marine fuel sources. This is also in line with MPA’s commitment to clean and green shipping in Singapore. The results of this study will provide MPA and the maritime industry with the operational and technical information necessary to implement LNG bunkering in Singapore,” said M. Segar, MPA’s Group Director (Hub Port).

Managed by DNV and co-sponsored by the MPA, the project is supported by 21 industry partners including BG Group, DNV Petroleum Services, Energy Markets Authority, Fearnleys, Gas Supply Pte Ltd, Hong Lam Marine, I.M. Skaugen, IHI Corporation, Innovation Norway, Keppel Offshore & Marine Technology Centre, Land Transport Authority, Maritime and Port Authority, Mitsui & Co Ltd, Norgas (Asia), NYK Line, Rolls Royce Marine, Shell, Singapore LNG Corporation Pte Ltd, SPT Marine Services Ltd and Star Cruises.

Anthony Barker, general manager for BG Singapore Gas Marketing and chairman of the JIP steering committee, said:

“This study provides an opportunity for established and experienced LNG industry players to work with Singapore bunkering stakeholders to ensure best in class safety standards and operating procedures are incorporated from the outset of this exciting development.”

Bjorn Tore Markussen, managing director for DNV Clean Technology Centre, said:

“The JIP is an excellent platform driving a safe and predictable scaling of regional LNG bunkering business solution. It is yet another important step in developing Singapore’s maritime cluster towards a Maritime Knowledge HUB.”