GCMD completes study and readies stakeholders for ship-to-ship pilot to transfer ammonia in Singapore


Press Release: The Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) and its  appointed consultant, DNV Maritime Advisory (DNV) supported by Surbana Jurong (SJ) and the  Singapore Maritime Academy (SMA) at the Singapore Polytechnic (SP), have completed an ammonia  bunkering safety study that was commissioned in January 2022. The risks identified for conducting  pilots in the Port of Singapore were found to be low or mitigable, thus paving the way for a pilot  project to take place at three identified sites. 


Despite its toxicity and associated risks, green ammonia is one of the potential fuels that can decarbonise the shipping industry. With the completion of this study, local regulatory authorities will  be able to use the report and its guidelines to deliberate the undertaking of an ammonia bunkering  pilot. Because ammonia-fuelled vessels are not available today, ammonia transfers in the port  waters of Singapore will be first carried out with ammonia carriers to ready stakeholders of the  ecosystem for an actual bunkering pilot when ammonia-fuelled vessels are on the water. 


A robust set of safety guidelines and operational envelopes 


The 9-month-long study has resulted in a report titled “Safety and Operational Guidelines for  Piloting Ammonia Bunkering in Singapore”. The study analysed capacity needs and feasible  operating concepts; it recommends suitable sites for pilots, and identifies hazards, key risks and  mitigation measures. The report also estimated the total capital expenditure for the additional  infrastructure buildout needed to operationalise ammonia bunkering at two land-based sites.  


For the study, the DNV consortium consulted extensively with 22 Study Partners and obtained feedback from more than 130 Industry and Consultation Alignment Panel (iCAP) members. Conversations with relevant regulators helped refined the analyses. Given the Port of Singapore’s  proximity to dense residential areas and operations that see more than 1,000 ships a day, the  stringent guidelines to pilot ammonia bunkering that were developed in this GCMD study will likely  be applicable to piloting ammonia bunkering at ports elsewhere. 


Safety risks can be mitigated 


More than 400 potential risks were identified and assessed based on four technically feasible  operational concepts: breakbulk and bunkering at anchorage, as well as shore-to-ship transfer and  cross-dock transfer at two land-based sites for potential ammonia bunkering. The consortium found  the identified risks to be manageable with mitigation measures. The analysis showed that individual  fatality and injury risks depend on the flow rate of ammonia, the number of transfer operations,  duration per transfer operation, and the length of piping and transfer arms.  


Given the small number of ammonia bunkering pilots that would be carried out annually, the  individual risks thresholds set by the Major Hazards Department of the Ministry of Manpower are  not expected to be triggered. Coarse Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA) using a deterministic dispersion model revealed a safety zone of 200 to 400 m for breakbulk and bunkering operations at  anchorage with flowrates up to 700 cbm/hr. 


Launching the ammonia report, Professor Lynn Loo, CEO of the Global Centre for Maritime  Decarbonisation, said: “This report will inform and enable a GCMD pilot involving ship-to-ship  transfer of ammonia in the port waters of Singapore. We are aiming for the first transfer of ammonia  to take place by end 2023, subject to obtaining the greenlight from the relevant regulatory agencies. Since ammonia-fuelled vessels are not yet available, we will be conducting the pilot with proxy  assets to gain stakeholder competence and confidence so an actual bunkering exercise can  commence when ammonia-fuelled vessels are on the water.” 


On the ammonia bunkering guidelines, Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV Maritime, said: “Ammonia  holds potential for a future maritime fuel and thus one pathway for the maritime industry’s  decarbonization journey. This project will help lay the safety considerations for ammonia bunkering.  Safety lies at the heart of the guidelines that DNV helped to develop for this pilot in Singapore.  Further pilots and studies are key to understand, assess and mitigate safety risks associated with  using ammonia fuel onboard the world fleet.” 


Tan Wooi Leong, Managing Director, Energy & Industrial, Surbana Jurong, said: “The study will bolster  Singapore’s position as an innovative and responsible global maritime hub leader as it seeks to  decarbonise the maritime industry. This study gives authorities a very practical, comprehensive view  of the costs associated with designing a port that supports the safe transfer and storage of this toxic  but game-changing alternative fuel.”  


Beyond the study  


In preparation for the next phase of the GCMD project to execute an ammonia bunkering pilot in  Singapore, GCMD is working with SMA to operationalise the manpower development framework for  training operators to handle ammonia as a marine fuel. Already, SMA has incorporated elements  from the study to develop the first training course on the handling of ammonia under the  International Code of Safety for Ships Using Gases or Other Low-flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code) and  industry guidelines. This course took place for the first time in March 2023, and registration is open  for its next intake.  


Capt Chatur Wahyu, Acting Director of Singapore Maritime Academy (SMA), Singapore Polytechnic  (SP) said: ”SMA had recently successfully conducted the Advanced IGF course where the topic on  ammonia handling was covered during the programme. SMA is committed to contributing in the  efforts towards green shipping and using ammonia as a future source of clean energy for the  maritime industry. We hope to upskill more maritime talents to meet the needs of the industry’s  changing landscape.” 


GCMD is also working closely with Oil Spill Response Limited to develop emergency response  procedures, and will be sharing the full report with the Singapore Standards Council to support the  development of a technical reference on ammonia bunkering. 


A public version of this report, with land-based site identity and site-specific information i.e., their  specific operational risk analyses and infrastructure readiness, redacted for commercial sensitivity  considerations, is openly available. Access the link to download the report. 


The full report will be made widely available at a later date.  


About the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation 


The Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) was set up on 1 August 2021 as a non profit organisation. Our strategic partners include the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore  (MPA), BHP, BW Group, Eastern Pacific Shipping, Foundation Det Norske Veritas, Ocean Network  Express, Sembcorp Marine, bp and Hapag-Lloyd. Beyond the strategic partners, GCMD has brought  onboard 13 partners that engage at the centre level, in addition to numerous other partners that  engage at the project level.  


Strategically located in Singapore, the world’s largest bunkering hub and second largest container  port, GCMD aims to help the industry eliminate GHG emissions by shaping standards for future fuels,  financing first-of-a-kind projects, and piloting low-carbon solutions in an end-to-end manner under  real-world operations conditions. For more information, please visit www.gcformd.org. 

Share article:

Dedicated topic pages >>

Other news >>


Stay On Top Of The Transformation Of The Shipping And Maritime Sectors With Our Weekly Email Newsletter.