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SIBCON 2022 Interview: ExxonMobil to invest more than USD $15bn on GHG reduction initiatives by 2027

Metcore International Pte Ltd is proud to provide independent support for the accreditation of the MFM systems for bunkering applications. We are aligned with ExxonMobil's GHG reduction initiatives in the marine industry. Transparency and trust are still the key points in bunker measurement, especially moving towards digitalisation. This places great importance on having an MFM system independently verified.

The following interview with Haur-Bin Chua, Regional Commercial Fuels Sales Director, Marine, ExxonMobil Asia Pacific Pte Ltd, was part of coverage for Singapore International Bunkering Conference and Exhibition (SIBCON) 2022, where Manifold Times was an official media partner.

MT: As an oil major capable of producing its own VLSFO, how has market dynamics changed for the company in Singapore after the introduction of major trading houses as bunker suppliers at the republic over the past few years?

At a macro level, the introduction of more bunker suppliers in Singapore promotes competition and innovation. This further improves Singapore status as a major regional bunkering and trading hub.

Furthermore, the increase in the number of suppliers also provides more choice to customers. Different suppliers have different areas of focus, and it is fundamentally important for fuel purchasers to know their suppliers. ExxonMobil’s focus as a responsible producer and supplier is to ensure that our fuels not only meet the IMO Sulphur mandate and ISO 8217-2017 standards, but also pass rigorous fit-for-use assessments for reliability and performance. We formulate our fuels with proprietary patented technology that helps identify and mitigate potential compatibility issues during the development process.

MT: ExxonMobil chartered the first MFM-equipped bunker tankers “Emissary” and “Jewel” during trials at the Republic and seems to be a supporter of MFM bunkering operations; does the firm have any plans to expand the use of MFM technology for bunkering operations to other parts of the world?

When it comes to marine fuel bunkering, having accurate and transparent data translates to cost benefits for our customers. It also allows vessel operators peace of mind when receiving bunker supply through MFM system.

We are very proud to be one of the pioneers for the MFM system. ExxonMobil was the first company to:

  • Market with a port authority approved MFM system

  • Guarantee delivery by a MFM system in Singapore

  • Deliver more than 1 million tons via MFM system

  • Launch an independently accredited MFM system in Hong Kong

Beyond Singapore where MFM is mandated, ExxonMobil has MFM implemented onboard its bunkering barges in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) ports as well as in France and Hong Kong.

MT: Digitalisation has been gaining pace around the world. The marine industry, including the bunkering sector, has been slow to pick it up. With data from MFM measurements already being digital, how should the bunkering industry should move towards digitalisation and transparency?

With digitalisation, there is value in exchanging data within an ecosystem to capture efficiencies and improve supply chain visibility. In Singapore, SGTradex was created as a result of Singapore Together Alliance for Action (AfA) on supply chain digitalisation. ExxonMobil is one of the participants working with the taskforce to explore ways to integrate disparate data into one supply chain common data infrastructure.

MT: What is ExxonMobil’s direction for alternative bunker fuels? Have any trends been spotted?

For the maritime industry, alternative low carbon options may co-exist in a multi-fuels future to address the specific needs of different shipping subsectors. Each of these options may present their own commercial and operational challenges, but to be successful, they will need to be safe, scalable, reliable, and viable.

In the near term, biofuels are an engine-ready alternative that can be used in existing engines without the need for extensive modifications. These biofuels have the potential to reduce GHG emissions by at least one-third compared with conventional marine fuel oil. ExxonMobil is already supplying marine biofuel in the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp (ARA) region and recently, we have successfully completed a commercial bio-based marine fuel oil bunkering in the port of Singapore.

On the longer term, from Well-to-Wake basis, methanol, ammonia and hydrogen are promising alternatives to reduce the carbon footprint of shipping. However, one of their challenges is their lower energy content and the comparatively lower amount of energy they can store in the tanks of a ship. Ship designs would require changes to accommodate fuel containment and gas-supply systems or frequent bunkering.

To accelerate the deployment of these alternative bunker fuels in this hard to decarbonise marine sector, the right regulatory policies have to be in place. ExxonMobil advocates for a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) to provide a predictable long-term pathway of reductions in carbon intensity (CI) of the fuel pool to support the IMO’s ambition of reducing GHG emissions from shipping. To enable this, policy should include the following attributes:

  • Set declining annual targets for the Well-to-Wake CI of the consumed marine fuels expressed in gCO2equivalent/MJ

  • Be technology neutral to encourage multiple pathways and innovation

  • Provide flexibility to manage investments in the fleets and the growth of lower GHG emission emerging technologies and energy

  • Support lower-carbon fuels, as the life cycle assessment approach helps to provide an effective tool for comparing alternative fuels

  • Include reporting of the fuel CI on the Bunker Delivery Notes

  • In case of non-compliance, a pre-determined buy-out could provide revenues to a global fund dedicated to the marine sector

As a major marine fuel supplier, ExxonMobil supports the International Maritime Organization (IMO) with a plan to be part of the solution. To provide solutions in the multi-fuels future, we are investigating several potentially viable alternatives to conventional fuel formulations including biofuels, hydrogen, methanol and ammonia. By 2027 we plan to invest more than $15bn on initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Our commitment to driving emission reductions in support of a net-zero future is outlined in our Advancing Climate Solutions – 2022 Progress Report.

Photo credit: ExxonMobil First published: 12 October, 2022

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