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FuelBoss online LNG bunkering platform proves its worth in practice

DNV unveiled its common industry digital platform for LNG bunkering in early 2020. The tool connects LNG fuel suppliers and customers and is designed to make the process from ordering to delivery as seamless as possible. Maritime Impact caught up with early adopters, on the supplier and buyer sides, to find out how they are using the system and its benefits.

FuelBoss aims to accelerate the uptake of LNG in shipping by providing fuel suppliers with a highly efficient tool for managing customers and day-to-day operations, while offering shipowners and operators a common interface for interacting with suppliers. “It serves to simplify work processes at a time when the LNG bunkering picture is still fragmented,” says Jon Anders Ryste, Principal Consultant, Environmental Advisory, DNV Maritime. “Delivery costs can form a big chunk of the delivered LNG price, so optimizing the supply chain and saving time are essential.”

One-stop shop for planning, executing and tracking bunkering operations

The single platform enables shipowners and operators to order bunker volumes within term contracts in a standardized format, track changes and monitor assets, communicate through an integrated chat and digitally fill in, sign and archive checklists, electronic bunker delivery notes (eBDNs) and other documentation. “It will also facilitate spot inquiries, and users have access to a map-based overview of LNG-fuelled ships and LNG bunker vessels through a live and historic automatic identification system (AIS) feed, while the business intelligence modules provide analysis and market insight,” Ryste adds. 

Gasum forges ahead as first mover

Finnish-owned Gasum is one of the FuelBoss development partners and the largest distributor of LNG in the Nordics covering all delivery modes – truck to ship, terminal to ship and ship to ship. It uses the platform to serve customers in the cruise and ferry segment, shuttle tankers and shortsea chemical tankers. “We aim to do as many bunkering operations as possible through FuelBoss and our goal is to expand to the offshore PSV [platform-supply vessel] fleet as well,” says Maritime Sales Manager Sindre Lilledahl.

Seamless communications save time and effort

The key “pain point” that FuelBoss addresses for Gasum is bridging the communications gap between its onshore operations and sales teams, bunkering vessels and customers. “Previously we had a blizzard of emails flying around, including having to manually sign checklists and BDNs. FuelBoss radically streamlines this process, saving around 30 minutes on each bunker delivery. Everything is in one place; the BDN is digital and signed by both parties electronically,” Lilledahl says.

Precise vessel tracing facilitates nascent spot market

Right now, most of Gasum’s business is term contracts, but as the number of LNG-fuelled vessels increases globally, so will spot ordering. “FuelBoss facilitates spot agreements because customers can see exactly where the bunkering vessels are geographically on the AIS map. This will help reduce delivery costs as they can choose the delivery option that is closest. We fully expect to do more spot agreements as the system and market mature,” Lilledahl says. 

“The system also enables you to enter the schedules for multiple bunkering- and feeder vessels. So let’s say we get a request to bunker a ship on a specific date and time with a specific quantity – we can automatically see which of our vessels is available to perform that operation and submit a quote. That is very powerful in an open market with competitive tendering.”

Customized display promotes business agility

“We of course had an AIS overview before, but another great thing with FuelBoss is that you can also customize the map to display only LNG-fuelled vessels for an at-a-glance view of your target market. DNV also registers every new vessel under construction, so we know exactly how the market is developing,” Lilledahl adds.

Streamlined document handling

In summary, the main benefits for Gasum are time-saving and less administrative “clutter”. “The time saved in terms of man hours over a year adds up to a lot of money. All the information we need is in one place, plus the platform is accessible to everyone internally and customers externally. They can access all their prior bunkering history in one portal. FuelBoss is also scalable, meaning we can add as many customers and users as we want, and potentially expand to other types of new fuel. The weekly business intelligence updates are also very helpful,” Lilledahl says.

Fjord Line strengthens partner line-up

Among its several liner customers, Gasum is supplying Fjord Line, whose sister ships MS Stavangerfjord (built 2013) and MS Bergensfjord (built 2014) are the world’s largest cruise ferries running on LNG. Both use FuelBoss to place orders, with the gas delivered quayside at a terminal in Risavika, Norway.  

“We are piloting the platform basically for the same reasons as Gasum,” says Jimmy Astor Soelberg, Chief Engineer on the MS Stavangerfjord. “It removes the need to send emails and physically store BDNs on board. We bunker in Stavanger every second day, and the Bergensfjord does the same on a daily basis, so our bunkering pattern is very consistent. I use FuelBoss exclusively for ordering LNG. I can see exactly when the order is approved and the incoming digital BDN.” 

Repeat order function now available

Lilledahl notes that a recurring nominations functionality has recently been incorporated. This will allow ships, especially those with fixed schedules like the MS Stavangerfjord, to set up an event generator that automatically creates orders based on schedule, and where the supplier has provided typical input, meaning much of the order/response process is now automated.  

Regarding FuelBoss’s more advanced functionality, Soelberg says if he were to imagine a different use case scenario, the system really comes into its own showing exactly where bunkering possibilities exist as close as possible to your position. “Seeing that on the map and entering a competitive call for LNG instead of having to contact suppliers one by one will be very helpful. Basically, it boils down to convenience and cost reduction. Anything that lightens the administrative burden and saves time means you have more time to concentrate on other things.” 

Proven also in ship-to-ship (STS) context

Viking Line’s dual-fuel RoPax vessel Viking Grace has been routinely supplied by Gasum’s LNG bunkering vessel Seagas in Stockholm since it entered service in 2013. Both Seagas and Viking Line have provided consistent feedback on the operational use of FuelBoss in support of its continued improvement. 

“Using FuelBoss helps us to address one particular challenge in the STS bunkering context,” says Seagas Master Andreas Ask. “In our previous routine, we signed the Statement of Facts (SOF) and sent it by mail to the Viking ship. With FuelBoss, we are also able to see when the receiver has signed the document.” 

Previously they used an Excel log to create SOFs, which basically contained the same information as the eBDN in FuelBoss. “It would be good if our Seagas-specific STS Safety Checklist were included in FuelBoss, as that would save us at least one print per voyage. We also hope the truck-to-ship checklists will also be implemented. Together they would save a lot of paperwork in the long run,” says Ask. 

For Gasum as a supplier, Ask says the main benefit of FuelBoss is being able to gather information in a more standardized format when all parties use the same system. “On the buyer side, the possibility to make nominations directly into the system should be a benefit for the receiver, enabling them to make decisions about which days bunkering should take place based on their other activities.” 

Fit for purpose

Lilledahl notes that shipping will become increasingly globalized as it drives further into the digital world. “FuelBoss is one tool that will enable this connected growth,” he says. “Partners helping in its development means we can ensure it is fit for purpose. Although it’s still under rapid development, as an off-the-shelf platform I believe it has a very strong future.”

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Jon Anders Ryste

Jon Anders Ryste

Principal Consultant for FuelBoss, DNV

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