Vitol Targets Asia Biofuel Growth With Specialist Bunker Barges

Swiss-based Dutch multinational energy and commodity trading company Vitol is strengthening its position in Asia’s expanding biofuel market, with the delivery of specialised bunker barges to Singapore in 2024.

From early next year, Vitol through its wholly-owned subsidiaries V-Bunkers and Vitol Bunkers will be able to offer a range of biofuel blends, from B24, B30, and even up to B100 if customers request it.

Currently, all vessels delivering bunker fuel in Singapore are oil tankers. These are permitted to only supply a fuel blended with biofuel up to 25% concentration. Any greater and IMO regulations stipulate a ‘IMO Type 2 chemical tanker’ ship is required.

The first IMO-Type 2 barge ordered by V-Bunkers will be delivered in January, to be followed by several more throughout 2024. Depending on demand, these vessels could also be upgraded to supply methanol. Bio and e-methanol are also significant pathways for the industry to achieve decarbonisation and there have been a number of specialist dual-fuel methanol-powered vessels on order for delivery starting from next year.

Though at a nascent stage, demand for biofuel is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, as the shipping industry looks at ways to decarbonise and curb emissions.

“The delivery of specialist barges is an exciting development for Vitol and its sustainability offerings in Asia,” said Mike Muller, Head of Vitol Asia. “As the shipping industry steps up its pursuit of decarbonisation solutions, barges that can deliver bunker fuel with a much higher concentration of biofuels represents a material step in the right direction.”

Shipping is considered a hard-to-abate sector, with no single technology or solution expected to solve the emissions problem. Rather, it will be a range of solutions to aid decarbonisation, with a switch to less-polluting fuels a notable option.

Biofuels, which can be in the form of methane, methanol, or fuel oil/gas oil blends, are seen as a convenient way for shipping companies to reduce their carbon emissions due to their ability to be used as a ‘drop-in fuel’.