BHP, one of the largest dry bulk Charterers, has cooperated with bunker supplier GoodFuels in an effort to decarbonise its supply chain with the use of biofuels. On 4 February 2019, at the port of Rotterdam, the capesize bulker M/V Frontier Sky, chartered by BHP, took its first bunkers of biofuels; a blend of MGO (70%) and biofuels made by used cooking oil feedstock (30%). The emissions reduction on the M/V Frontier Sky with the use of this 30% blend was estimated at around 26%. Abdes Karimi, head of strategy and planning in BHP notes that “the growth of biofuels in the marine bunkers is inevitable”.
The main concern around the use of biofuels is that, unlike the traditional bunkers, biofuels’ efficiency highly depends on various parameters such as their provenance (feedstock), their production method, the supply chain and their compatibility with the various engine types. Based on their provenance, biofuels are currently divided into three “generations”. “First generation” biofuels are derived directly from crops. “Second generation” are coming from animal or plant waste and the “third generation” are derived from algae. As we are moving from the first to third generation, biofuels’ efficiency is increased and their carbon emissions are reduced, though the supply chain remains important to the final result.
Verification of biofuels’ sustainability is often difficult, due to the way that they are produced and how their carbon emissions impact is calculated. This, along with the lack of transparency that already exists in the bunker industry, highly increase the risk of delivering bad bunkers.
In the case of Frontier Sky, though, BHP and GoodFuels were feeling confident of the origin and sustainability of the biofuels supplied, because they utilised a blockchain fuel assurance platform developed by blockchain technology experts Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration (BLOC) and Lloyd’s Register Foundation. GoodFuels has introduced this blockchain technology since the second half of 2018 and, as it seems, within a few months only, its usage is rapidly expanded among the major market players.
In contrary to the traditional paper BDN, the blockchain platform is used to provide end-to-end traceability of the biofuels; from their origin to the vessel’s fuel tank. Blockchain creates an unalterable decentralised public digital ledger with information in regards with quality and quantity analysis as well as fuel specifications through the various parties who have handled the biofuel. Such end-to-end traceability allows the supply chain to become totally transparent and biofuel provenance and characteristics, including emissions savings, to be easily verified.