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BHP shipping operations at Port Hedland. Image: BHP

BHP has partnered with two European companies and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) to trial the first marine biofuel in an ocean-going vessel.

The trial was designed to inform BHP on the use of biofuels in its shipments and help reduce its emissions intensity on chartered shipping by 40 per cent by 2030.

BHP shipped 290 million tonnes of iron ore from its Western Australian mining operations last year.

German shipping company Oldendorff Carriers and advanced biofuel company GoodFuels both assisted the trial, aligning their respective products in Singapore on April 4.

The biofuel blended conventional fossil fuels with waste and residue streams, which GoodFuels stated could reduce carbon emission by 80 to 90 per cent from well to exhaust.

The 81,290 tonne dry bulk carrier Kira Oldendorff was used for the trial, which aimed to understand the behaviour of biofuel, especially in a marine application.

Besides finding a reduction in emissions, the biofuel trial also looked to discover the biofuel’s effects on engine performance, while also understanding the commercial merit of biofuel on the ocean.

BHP’s vice president of maritime Rashpal Bhatti said the company was proud to be the first to try such a concept.

“We are delighted to be working with Oldendorff Carriers and GoodFuels, with the support of MPA, to carry out the first biofuel trial involving an ocean-going vessel bunkered here in Singapore,” Bhatti said.

“We strive hard to work with our customers, suppliers and other stakeholders along the value chain to influence emissions reductions across the full life cycle of our products and we fully support moves to decarbonise the maritime industry.”

Last December, BHP commissioned Shell to fuel five of its Newcastlemax bulk carriers with LNG, which BHP chief commercial officer Vandita Pant said would reduce carbon emission by 30 per cent.

“The LNG bunkering contract marks a significant step in how BHP is working with our suppliers to reduce emissions across the maritime supply chain,” Pant said.

The LNG-fuelled vessels will be used to transport iron ore between Western Australia and China from 2022 and will be chartered by BHP from Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS) on five-year terms.