Singapore Branch Talk: “Fuelling for the Future”

Posted on Wednesday, October 25, 2017

What Fuels, What Choices

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On Wednesday evening 25 October 2017, we were again grateful to the SSA for hosting our bimonthly presentation program. On this occasion, the speaker, Mr Yoon Jang Yong FICS of Bureau Veritas Marine presented on the topic of Fuelling 4D Future. Whilst the primary focus was on the work being done to move us towards a higher utilization of LNG as a marine fuel, and thus meet and exceed the requirements of the sulphur cap in 2020, the presentation covered a gamut of other alternative fuel types, reminding us that, as ever, the maritime sector remains at the cutting edge of technologies.  Beyond LNG, perhaps the most widely discussed and understood 'new' fuel, Yoon presented Ethane, Methanol, LPG, and even Hydrogen, and whilst there was great depth on LNG and LNG-Hybrid technologies, the other fuels were not given and short shrift in a very thorough review. Clearly there remains a long way to go to establish these fuels as mainstream and like the VHS/Betamax battle, that was succeeded by the DVD and Blue Ray, it is clear that some will see newer technologies overtake them, and even then, the leftfield option, may even still be out there, as live streaming has ultimately displaced our shelves of DVD's in the last few years.

The evening wound out with a highly energetic and intense Q&A session and the impression most had as they departed for different parts of the little red dot is that there will be no single solution, that the industry is facing up to the challenge and that perhaps the greatest inhibiter of how far and fast we can proceed is not so much our imagination, nor our technical knowledge, but rather the hard currency to realize those goals. Depressed shipping sectors are not great places to see new technologies developed quickly and especially so when such capex limitations exist. Perhaps we will see these filter through over time, but for 2020, we still anticipate the market to go along more manageable cash-flow based models, such as distillate utilization, offsetting costs almost mark to market on a fixture by fixture basis.