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Sea Asia 2021 Captures Key Discussions on Shipping’s Transition to Zero Emission Fuels

Blog Article - October 07, 2021


Sea Asia 2021, Asia’s leading maritime business event, convened close to 3,000 participants from over 70 countries virtually, when it took place from 21st to 23rd September 2021. Across three days, 120 speakers representing the broad spectrum of maritime sector, its customers, technology companies and allied industries set the pace with an eye on shipping’s future.

Jerome Leprince-Ringuet, Vice President Marine Fuels, TotalEnergies, recaps his thoughts from a panel discussion on Day 1 of the conference, where he joined other industry leaders from Itochu Corporation, MSC Group, Anglo American and moderated by DNV, to debate shipping’s ‘Transitioning to Zero Emission Fuels’.


It was a delight to share my insight on Day 1 of Sea Asia 2021, where I joined a panel discussion alongside:

  • Takeo Akamatsu (Project Leader, Integrated Project for Development of NH3 Fuel Ship with Fuel Supply Chain, Marine Department, ITOCHU Corporation);
  • Bud Darr (Executive Vice President, Maritime Policy & Government Affairs, MSC Group);
  • Peter Lye (Global Head of Shipping, Anglo American);
  • and moderated by Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen (Chief Executive Officer DNV – Maritime).

Set Off with Strong Ambition & Cross-Sector Collaboration

While our discussions covered various challenges and opportunities to steer shipping towards a carbon-free future, my sense is that a strong ambition is important for the maritime industry to get the ball rolling on decarbonization.

Many leading companies have already set ambitious targets to achieving net-zero emissions. Likewise, when Total Energies set out its ambition to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 1.5 years ago, it has been dominant in driving our entire organization on a singular direction and in helping to give our customers and stakeholders across industries a better alignment of our aspirations and strategy ahead to produce more responsible energies.

In the same regard, I believe the maritime industry needs a strong ambition fuelled with cross-sector R&D collaborations, to build up fresh ideas that are needed to speed up its decarbonization journey.

Through pioneering efforts and coalitions that TotalEnergies is a part of, such as the Getting to Zero Coalition, Coalition for the Energy of the Future, the Itochu Ammonia Study Framework and the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, these partnerships ultimately illustrate our commitment to share the decarbonization load with the shipping sector.

No Silver Bullet Solution for Shipping

In navigating the industry towards reducing its carbon footprint, the panel also recognised the need to look at a broad spectrum of solutions, as well as what is available today to reduce shipping’s current carbon footprint, while working on what needs to happen to bring shipping’s future fuels into the market.

As Anglo American’s Peter Lye aptly put it, there is no silver bullet solution for shipping’s decarbonization and the industry will need to move things in a positive direction from the short to the long term.

From an energy supplier’s perspective, there are existing solutions to start this journey, namely, LNG and liquid biofuels, which not only significantly reduce today’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but provides a practical, long-term pathway to its non-fossil, lower and even zero-carbon methane siblings.

In addressing the issue of methane emissions throughout the LNG value chain, I echo MSC Group’s Bud Darr’s views that while it needs to be addressed, engine makers have made it a priority for vessel engines to have minimal (tank-to-wake) methane slip. Further technological improvements are expected to extensively reduce methane slip by 2030.

On the upstream operations, gas producers including TotalEnergies have made a commitment to reduce methane emissions at operated gas facilities close to zero, with a target of less than 0.1% of commercial gas produced. TotalEnergies has also committed to improve the energy efficiency of our gas production, especially at the liquefaction plants, where we aim to use green energies to liquefy LNG. This will further reduce one of the components of upstream GHG emissions.

Importantly, studies that examine the full lifecycle GHG emissions analysis on the use of marine LNG should be recognized. Data from Sphera’s latest study, for example, takes into account methane slips and methane leaks at upstream gas production, and reconfirms GHG reductions of up to 23%, which is consistent with today’s performance in the industry.

Clearer Regulatory Framework Needed to Secure Shipping’s Share of Future Fuels

Looking ahead, while TotalEnergies is vested in every stage of the conversation – from revolutionizing ship designs to accommodate these future fuels to speeding up the development of future fuels – it is clear that shipping will have to compete with other industries for their share of these lower-carbon and carbon-free fuels. This competition will apply especially across e-fuel candidates that require green electricity for its production, such as green ammonia, methane (synthetic LNG), methanol and hydrogen.

This is where I think the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and ship owners/operators have a role to play to give visibility on their appetite for these fuels. In particular, a clear regulatory framework will be critical in order for energy providers and ship owners to secure the trillions of dollars of investments that will be needed to produce hundreds of gigawatts of green electricity necessary to make these e-fuels.

There are signs, nonetheless, that show shipping’s solidarity and urgency in decarbonizing. With increasing intensity of discussions and greater calls for action we witnessing today around maritime decarbonization efforts, I believe it will drive shipping to diversify at least 5% of its energy mix into lower-carbon fuels by mid-2030s.

Jérôme Leprince-Ringuet, Vice-President Marine Fuels, TotalEnergies


You can now rewatch this Sea Asia 2021 panel discussion at

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