Singapore marks Asia's first containership LNG refueling operation

March 24 (Reuters) - Asia saw its first ship-to-containership liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunkering operation in Singapore on Wednesday, paving the way for refueling ships with the cleaner fuel at the world’s top bunkering hub.

The container ship, CMA CGM Scandola, was fueled with 7,100 cubic metres of LNG from FueLNG Bellina, Singapore’s first LNG bunkering vessel, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) said in a joint statement.

“The use of more sustainable fuels is an important element of the decarbonisation strategy. As the shipping industry explores alternative zero-carbon fuels, LNG is a viable transitional fuel,” said Chee Hong Tat, Singapore’s senior minister of state for the Ministry of Transport.

The operation, the first ship-to-ship operation for the Bellina bunker barge, was conducted by shipping and logistics company CMA CGM and FueLNG, a joint venture between Keppel Offshore & Marine Ltd and Shell Eastern Petroleum Pte Ltd, and the MPA.

The bunkering operation was also the first in Asia to simultaneously take place during container loading and offloading, which allows for shorter port stay times, Shell said.

Singapore expects annual LNG bunkering capacity to hit one million tonnes by 2021. It has been extending its LNG infrastructure by expanding storage capacity and issuing LNG bunkering supply licenses.

The CMA CGM Scandola is the first of six new 15,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) LNG-powered containerships lined-up by CMA CGM to be bunkered in Singapore this year.

The use of LNG as a marine fuel is gaining traction in Asia amid a global push to reduce carbon emissions. (Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri and Swati Verma in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill)