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Chevron charters its first hybrid refuelling barge

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In a first for the US-based oil major, Chevron has commissioned a hybrid refuelling barge for its bunkering operations in Singapore.

Chevron, which also makes Texaco grease and lubricant products, chartered the bunker tanker from V-Bunkers to supply ships with Chevron fuel. Thanks to running partially on battery-stored electricity, the vessel will consume 20% less fuel than a conventional tanker, thus cutting costs and emissions.

While a similarly sized barge would typically have three auxiliary engines, the new barge has two engines combined with an electrical power distribution system. During what would normally be periods of high fuel use, the electric system will support the engines to reduce fuel consumption, similar to how many hybrid electric cars work.

The commercial marine manager for Asia Pacific at Chevron, Jennifer Chao, said that chartering the barge gave the opportunity to evaluate how hybrid vessels could be adopted in Chevron’s wider marine operations, adding:

“We’re looking for opportunities like this to understand new technologies, test capabilities and collect data to determine if there is broader applicability for our global operations.”

It would of course be ideal if the barge could run entirely on electricity, but Varun Kohli, the Asia Pacific term charterer at Chevron, said this was not possible with the current technology. He cited the space that the battery packs, which are almost as large as a 20-foot shipping container, would currently need. Nevertheless, he said he believed that all-electric bunker tankers could become a reality once batteries become smaller and more efficient.

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