Beer, barley, biofuels – CBH leads Australia-first biofuel trial on sustainable barley shipment

January 9, 2022 |

News came in late Friday that the CBH Group partnered with leading dry bulk operator Oldendorff Carriers to conduct the first biofuel trial on a grain vessel exporting from Australia, using biofuel supplied by big name bp. The grain being shipped? ISCC-certified barley going to Intermalt whose largest brewing customer is Heineken. Sustainable grain on a sustainable ship for more sustainable beer. Cheers to that!

In today’s Digest, all about the CBH biofuel trial, bp’s role with biofuels in the shipping industry, the journey, the fuel, the reactions from the stakeholders, and more.

The journey

The CBH Group has partnered with leading dry bulk operator Oldendorff Carriers to conduct the first biofuel trial on a grain vessel exporting from Australia. CBH Marketing and Trading is shipping 30,000 tons of sustainably certified malting barley aboard the Edwine Oldendorff, which departed from the Albany Grain Terminal in Australia bound for Vietnam on Sunday.

CBH Chief Marketing and Trading Officer Jason Craig said the co-operative was proud to be pioneering efforts, alongside two of its global partners, to explore ways to reduce its carbon footprint along the supply chain.

The malting barley, which is accredited as sustainable under the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) program, is set for Vietnam’s leading malting company, Intermalt.

Intermalt services a number of brewing customers, the largest being Heineken, which has set a target of a carbon neutral value chain by 2040.

In 2020-21, CBH sold 1.2 million tons of sustainably certified grain and reduced Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions on a per ton basis by 38 per cent from the previous year.

The fuel

The vessel will be bunkered with a biofuel blend for the trial, supplied by integrated energy company bp. The biofuel blend is estimated to produce about 15 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions for this journey than conventional fossil fuels.

While CBH and bp didn’t disclose the biofuel content, we can guess it could be fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) blended with very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO). FAME is a biofuel largely produced from recycled cooking oils and renewable oil sources and is what bp used just a few weeks ago with their Maersk Tankers biofuel trials, as reported by The Digest.

The trial will provide information on how the vessel engine responds to biofuel, its speed and efficiency, and measure the emissions it produces.

We have a feeling they will find what many others have found on their biofuel trials which is that it performs just as well or better than conventional fuels, like the bp and Maersk Tankers biofuel trials recently completed that showed it can be used as a marine ‘drop-in fuel’. Or Eagle Bulk Shipping’s experience with fossil-free voyages thanks to GoodFuels’ advanced marine biofuel, as reported in The Digest just a few weeks ago.

Reactions from the stakeholders

“Customers across the world are increasingly seeking to source sustainable products, including sustainable grain,” said CBH Chief Marketing and Trading Officer Jason Craig. “It is our role, as Australia’s leading grain exporter, to take the necessary steps to lower carbon emissions along our supply chain. Biofuel is one low-carbon option that could be part of the solution to reducing emissions in the shipping industry.”

“We need to meet the growing market demand for sustainable or carbon reduced grain by being proactive, practical and adapting,” said Craig. “By doing this, we are making sure we can continue to keep our Western Australia growers competitive. Our increased focus on sustainability means our co-op will remain strong for future generations and Western Australian growers are well placed to meet future market expectations.”

“We are excited to be working alongside our key global partners to conduct this trial, which will provide valuable information and help pave the way for a more sustainable grain industry,” said Craig.

Managing Director at Oldendorff Carriers Melbourne, Ben Harper, said, “We are very pleased to be collaborating with industry leader CBH to trial biofuel in our vessel, Edwine Oldendorff. Collaboration is crucial for us all to learn and share information about the best paths in our efforts to decarbonise the supply chain.”

Bottom Line

Biofuels used to be something that smaller companies were doing – something beyond the mainstream on the sidelines, like a secret project that the Avengers hope will save the world. But the past decade or so has shown it’s more mainstream than ever, it’s beyond a hidden garage, it’s out in the open with big names like CBH Group and bp. And even better, drinking beer is becoming more sustainable than ever and that’s something to raise a glass for, so bottoms up!


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