BHP has today welcomed the world’s first LNG-fuelled Newcastlemax bulk carrier to Singapore, the first of five chartered by the company.

MV Mount Tourmaline will transport iron ore between Western Australia and Asia under a five-year time-charter contract with Singapore company Eastern Pacific Shipping. The LNG fuel contract was awarded to Shell.

The 209,000-dwt vessel arrived at Jurong Port in Singapore for its first LNG bunkering operation, which will be carried out by Singapore’s first LNG bunkering vessel, FueLNG Bellina.

When bunkering is complete, Mount Tourmaline will depart for Port Hedland in Western Australia to load its cargo of iron ore.

BHP chief commercial officer Vandita Pant said the company has been working with its suppliers to make the maritime supply chain more innovative and sustainable.

“This vessel delivers significant improvements to energy efficiency and emissions intensity, as well as reduced overall GHG emissions in our value chain,” she said.

“These achievements demonstrate BHP, EPS and Shell’s shared commitment to social value through innovative emissions reduction initiatives.”

The vessels are expected to reduce GHG emissions intensity by more than 30% on a per voyage basis in comparison to a conventional fuelled voyage.

EPS CEO Cyril Ducau said the LNG bunkering is evidence that the industry’s energy transition is in full swing.

“These dual-fuel LNG Newcastlemax vessels are a world’s first, but more importantly, they represent a culture shift in shipping and mining,” he said.

“These ships tell both industries that significant carbon emission reduction is available today and necessary to implement, as we work towards net zero solutions.

“EPS would like to congratulate BHP, FueLNG, MPA, and Shell for being leaders in the decarbonisation movement.”

Chris Ong, FueLNG chairman and Keppel Offshore & Marine CEO, said LNG plays an important role in the transition to clean energy.

“As the leading provider of LNG bunkering in Singapore, FueLNG is well positioned to support the decarbonisation efforts of industry leaders such as BHP and EPS,” he said.

“With the ability to bunker a wide range of vessels, FueLNG is pleased to service the world’s first LNG-fuelled Newcastlemax bulk carrier and looks forward to the arrival of the next four vessels in Singapore.”

The popularity of LNG as a maritime fuel has increased rapidly in recent years. Historically used by LNG carriers, it now fuels larger containerships and capesize bulk carriers.

According to an article from RightShip, LNG is widely recognised as a less harmful alternative to traditional fuels, particularly in terms of air emissions.

However, the article noted LNG has also received criticism due to several environmental drawbacks, such as the discharge of unburned methane from the engine, known as methane slip.

Another consideration is fugitive emissions, referring to the methane produced during the LNG drilling, extraction, and transportation process.