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Wednesday, September 16, 2020 

Ship fuel broker and trader LQM Petroleum Services, noting the fast growth in the offshore windfarm sector, says that this market in particular expects low carbon service operations by support vessels, but supplying and handling biofuels is a challenge while development of ammonia and hydrogen powered vessels still has a long way to go.

According to LQM, in Europe the sector has now reached a scale and size where the operational and contractual complexities are comparable to northern European oil and gas projects. The market primed for take-off in the Asia Pacific region and significant projects off the US coasts are coming onstream. The pressure is now on support vessels to reduce emissions and ensure vessel reliability for the environmentally sensitive wind farm operators.

At an LQM webinar, panellists including a bunker vessel operator, ship agent and bunker trader discussed the challenges of safe ship-to-ship transfers, the future fuel mix and the difficulties facing smaller bunker traders to supply reliable lines of credit to customers. Ammonia, along with methanol, hydrogen fuel cells and batteries all have the potential to play their part - but in the short term oil-price volatility could cause headaches for bunker buyers.

“Biofuels and LNG are the leading lower carbon choices at the moment,” said LQM broker James Hoffman, “I think the future will be a combination of green-tech and alternative fuels. There's no definitive silver bullet to this problem, rather more of a silver buckshot.”

Currently biodiesel enables vessel operators to reduce carbon footprint by 20-30% without the need for engine modifications. However, the veg-oil derived fuel needs to be stored carefully, is easily contaminated and throws up challenges of lubricity and its flow properties need monitoring.

“We are able to source biofuel supply, but there isn’t as much availability as there is for gas oil, so we need to plan ahead.” said Hoffman.

According to LQM CEO Daniel Rose, the banking industry is “falling out of love with the bunker sector.” However, he noted that the provision of credit for bunkers was one of LQM’s key value propositions but that a number of smaller bunker traders were exiting the sector.

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