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Digital support for low-carbon fuel supply chains

As the global LNG-powered fleet continues to grow and new alternative fuels are emerging, knowing your bunkering options and planning for smooth bunkering is critical. DNV’s Martin Wold answers key questions about two DNV online tools that support the energy transition.

Featuring in this interview

Martin Wold
Martin Wold, Martin Wold, Principal Consultant at DNV, Maritime Advisory

Martin was the original Product Manager for AFI. He is now Product Manager for FuelBoss and fully dedicated to establishing a common industry platform for the LNG bunkering of ships. Martin has more than a decade of experience in alternative fuels for shipping, especially LNG. In his career he has, amongst other things, been supporting numerous owners and charterers with feasibility assessments of various alternative fuels and has been managing the application review for the Norwegian NOx Fund.

Martin was the original Product Manager for AFI. He is now Product Manager for FuelBoss and fully dedicated to establishing a common industry platform for the LNG bunkering of ships. Martin has more than a decade of experience in alternative fuels for shipping, especially LNG. In his career he has, amongst other things, been supporting numerous owners and charterers with feasibility assessments of various alternative fuels and has been managing the application review for the Norwegian NOx Fund.

DNV offers the Alternative Fuels Insight (AFI) platform and the FuelBoss tool. Could you provide a brief description of both platforms?

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The AFI platform was developed to provide a comprehensive and up-to-date overview of, and insight into, the ongoing energy transition in shipping. With currently more than 8,000 users, it gives decision support to all types of industry stakeholders. The bunkering infrastructure and the availability of alternative fuels are essential to support the decarbonization of shipping, and having a reliable and comprehensive source of information is key to supporting and accelerating the energy transition. This is one of our contributions to help solve the chicken-and-egg problem. FuelBoss is focused on fully digitalizing the procurement of green fuels for shipping including bunkering operations, starting with LNG. FuelBoss is a fully digital and collaborative platform for LNG fuel suppliers and shipowners. It facilitates the entire LNG bunkering process from nomination placement to the signing of the Bunker Delivery Note (BDN), including electronic checklists and digital BDN signatures.

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What are the main benefits for subscribers of AFI or FuelBoss?

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Keeping track of all bunkering options and planning for all relevant alternative fuels is more than a full-time job. With AFI you get all this consolidated and detailed information presented on user-friendly dashboards and in map views, most of it free of charge. The premium subscription, which delivers the full details, is particularly useful for fuel suppliers, equipment makers and consultants. FuelBoss is a highly efficient platform for established suppliers to operationalize their entire LNG contract portfolio, and for buyers to get easy and direct access to the majority of LNG suppliers worldwide using one common interface across different suppliers. FuelBoss captures operational data and makes it available for analysis to improve operational efficiency. It cuts bunker times and improves bunker vessel utilization, makes the process more efficient for crews and back offices, and supports order-to-cash systems. For new suppliers FuelBoss is also a very valuable “starter kit” with proven recommended practices including operational documents and templates. Comprehensive market insights incorporating AIS data enable suppliers to monitor the market and identify near-term opportunities.

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Who should subscribe to which platform and why?

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AFI is the industry’s most comprehensive knowledge hub for alternative fuels and technologies. It is a great tool for anyone working on or interested in alternative fuels and decarbonization of shipping, in particular those considering fuel options for newbuilds or investing in bunkering infrastructure for alternative fuels. Information about the availability of alternative and future fuels is key input for decision-making. FuelBoss is of particular interest to all shipping companies operating or ordering LNG-fuelled ships as well as all LNG suppliers. The high supply chain costs of alternative fuels make efficient procurement and utilization a must to stay competitive. The biggest saving potential lies in the interaction between the supplier and the buyer, the bunker vessel and the receiving vessel. This is why we strive for a common industry approach to digitalization. Our platform approach also supports the new phase of the LNG bunker market with significantly more suppliers and buyers in the game, higher requirements for trading area flexibility and increasing competition.

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What further developments on these platforms can subscribers expect?

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As for AFI, we intend to expand the coverage of alternative fuels and associated bunkering infrastructure. For the medium term, we are exploring a couple of completely new features and tools to support the industry in evaluating its options. As the active user base of FuelBoss grows beyond Europe, we will expand the platform to cover bunkering in Singapore and North America, including new safety checklists, unit conversions, etc. To further support efficient planning, operations and back-office activities we are also working on implementing vessel ETA predictions, API integration of onboard IoT sensors as well as supplier order-to-cash systems and buyer procurement systems. We will also roll out some tools to support procurement processes. Customers will shortly see a bunker availability map, indicating exactly which suppliers have a track record in which areas. Working closely with external partners, we also intend to make a price feed available so users can keep track of the latest fuel price developments. Then there are plans to support a fully digital work process for bunkering hydrogen and methanol in response to requests from the market. We are fully committed to supporting the development of any green fuel for shipping and there are now a handful of projects coming online.

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What uptake of LNG bunkering do you expect for the next two to three years?

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In spite of the grim short-term outlook for the LNG bunker market, with record high gas prices and dual-fuel vessels taking advantage of their fuel flexibility, the medium- and long-term outlook is really quite exciting for LNG suppliers. There is a real step change in growth happening at the moment, with a significant amount of buyers and suppliers entering this space. Over the next three years the number of ships on the water will triple, with mainly large ships being delivered. The LNG bunker market will grow to more than 6 million tonnes per annum by 2025, equivalent to nearly 3% of the global marine fuel market. Half of that volume is added by ships ordered in 2021 alone. Simple extrapolation will tell you that a share of 10% in the global LNG bunker market by 2030 is well within reach. Whether or not the order boom of 2021 will continue remains to be seen, but there have been no signs of a slowdown in Q1. Owners are seeing CII and other greenhouse gas regulations as incentives to switch to lower-carbon fuels a few years into a newbuild’s lifetime. Right now there aren’t really any other mature options other than LNG.

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