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Shipping is undergoing a revolution and I can help

Blog Article - Mar 8, 2024

ulien Bellande spent 20 years working as an engineer on massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure projects in places

​​Julien Bellande spent 20 years working as an engineer on massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure projects in places as varied as Canada, Indonesia and Finland. So, he brought with him a wealth of experience when he joined TotalEnergies Marine Fuels two years ago as one of the go-to LNG technical specialists that everyone turns to. Among his many tasks are ensuring safe LNG bunker operations, advising strategy and business development on technical matters and helping to draw up industry standards for new low-carbon fuels. No wonder his biggest stress is “the clock ticking”.

Julien’s time working on these LNG projects reflected the extraordinary rise of the industry from a niche market dominated by a handful of countries to its status as a mainstream solution to the world’s energy security and transition needs. The LNG liquefaction and regasification projects that he worked on helped expand that niche market by adding new export and import infrastructure around the world.

So why leave such an exciting sector to join TotalEnergies Marine Fuels?

“It’s a very exciting time for the shipping sector right now. Shipping is an ancient industry and yet, at this moment, it is completely transforming itself. We’re in the middle of a complete revolution which has a strong technical component and that’s very interesting – I am very glad to be part of that,” Julien says. 

New regulations from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and from the European Union (EU) – especially the recent implementation of the IMO Carbon Intensity Index, the inclusion of shipping into the EU’s carbon emission trading scheme next year and the requirement to reduce fuel carbon intensity as of 2025 – is incentivising all shipowners to cut greenhouse gas emissions. 

To help the shipping industry decarbonize, TotalEnergies Marine Fuels has been developing a suite of alternative fuels – offering commercial LNG bunkering in Europe since 2020, commercial marine biofuels bunkering since the start of last year in Singapore and working on multiple fronts to make green ammonia and green methanol bunkering a reality.  

“TotalEnergies is a good place to be in during this time because it is a company that has the means to take part of this transition, able to make things happen at scale,” Julien says. 


Julien is part of the entity’s HSE & Technical Department, a function that drives the safety and technical development of all TotalEnergies Marine Fuels’ current and future fuels, including the hundreds of bunkering operations that the company carries out for its shipping customers across close to 130 ports in Europe, Asia Pacific and Africa. 

In recent months, Julien has been especially busy ensuring the LNG bunkering operations that take place as a result of transactions made on the spot market go ahead smoothly and safely. Spot deals are ad hoc, short-term transactions and as such, present a challenge to the technical and safety teams because they have not been planned for long and may even take place with a new client. 

“In the last few months, we have had a lot of customers contacting the commercial team for spot LNG bunkering opportunities and that requires a lot of technical effort to make such operations happen at short notice in a safe manner,” Julien says.

This includes checking mooring, handling and loading arrangements between the specific vessels involved as well as making the additional technical checks required for LNG bunker fuel which are not for conventional fuel, due to LNG’s particular characteristics.

Such spot transactions are celebrated by the industry as they give a boost to the market by signalling increased liquidity and transparency. In one such operation, TotalEnergies’ chartered LNG bunker vessel, the Gas Agility, supplied 2,700MTof LNG to Maran Tankers Management’s Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) Maran Danae in Rotterdam


One of the most important but also most challenging aspects of Julien’s jobs is to keep up to date with new maritime regulations coming from bodies such as the IMO and the EU; to understand them comprehensively and to be able to effectively communicate their meaning to the rest of the organisation. 

Certain strands of the EU’s Fit for 55 package of decarbonization rules have only recently been finalised, while the IMO has revised its greenhouse gas emission reduction strategy in July last year. Additionally, at the start of this year, the EU Commission issued new recommendations, including for the shipping sector, to help EU states reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by a minimum 90% by 2040. All of these rules will have an impact on shipowners and should be positive for alternative fuels, although the devil will be in the detail as to their stringency, the timing of the impact and whether they expedite the development of one fuel above another.  

“At the moment, there’s a lot of work going on to develop new low-carbon fuels and on understanding the new regulations. I would say we have a role in supporting technical and regulatory intelligence – to know what’s going on in the industry in terms of new technology, new regulations and standards,” Julien says. 

Julien and his team also play an active role within working groups spanning shipping and cross-industry initiatives, such as the Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The team contributes its expertise and insights to such groups to support the development of standards and best practices crucial for ensuring the safe and efficient bunkering of alternative fuels.

With such a full-on job brief, it is a good thing Julien has a thirst for knowledge.

“I like to learn new things and this particular sector at this particular time in history is a good place to be. There is really a lot going on in this industry, it’s a fascinating job in engineering in this respect.”