Container Vessel Bunkered with Methanol During Cargo Operations

May 27, 2024

Source: MPA
Source: MPA

X-Press Feeders, Global Energy Trading Pte Ltd (GET), and PSA Singapore (PSA) have successfully completed the first simultaneous methanol bunkering and cargo operation (SIMOPS) in Singapore on May 27, 2024.

The SIMOPS was conducted 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 trialed 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 May 24, 2024.

An X-Press Feeder container vessel on her maiden voyage from Asia to Europe was successfully refueled with close to 300 metric tonnes (MT) of bio-methanol by GET, an 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 the container vessel was completing container moves. SIMOPS 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 in four hours.

With these operations, the Port of Singapore is ready for commercial scale operations for shore-to-ship, ship-to-ship, and SIMOPS 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 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.

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, the crew from Kara 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 Marine Energy Training Facility (METF) announced at Singapore Maritime Week 2024.

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.

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.

MPA is currently developing the Technical Reference for methanol bunkering, which will include the framework to govern the use of MFM and digital bunkering for methanol. MPA will also study further enhancements for the IMO Type II chemical bunker tanker as part of its ongoing work to develop the methanol bunkering licensing framework and Port Limit Bunker Tanker requirements for methanol bunkering.

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