Ammonia is one amongst the slate of alternative fuels proposed for decarbonising shipping. As renewable energy continues to proliferate, ammonia can potentially be produced at scale when green hydrogen is widely available. 

A major concern with using ammonia as a marine fuel is its safe handling. Ammonia is toxic and can be lethal upon a 30 min exposure to 1600 ppm (AEGL 3). It is also corrosive when exposed to ambient moisture. 

Despite ongoing discussions on using ammonia as an alternative marine fuel, there exists a gap on how ammonia bunkering can be carried out safely. 

Critical gaps in bunkering procedures and safety precautions, personnel competency frameworks and emergency response need to be addressed before ammonia can be used safely by the maritime industry.

The case for the study

Operational and safety requirements for ammonia carriers handling ammonia as a cargo, are well established. 

Such guidelines do not exist for using ammonia as a marine fuel. 

Furthermore, feasibility studies incorporating specific bunkering safety assessments within port jurisdictions, like Singapore, are limited due to the lack of ammonia bunkering infrastructure specifications.  

Given the parallel development of ammonia-fuelled engines and the need to build up ammonia supply chains for marine fuel applications, there is a need to concurrently look at shoring up capabilities and supporting the drafting of guidelines, ideally harmonised across jurisdictions, for ammonia bunkering.

Scope of the study

In January 2022, GCMD commissioned a study to assess the safe bunkering of ammonia as a marine fuel and, if viable, to define the safety and operational envelopes for such end use.

The study, awarded to DNV and their consortium partners Surbana Jurong and Singapore Maritime Academy, covered six focus areas:

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