The Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation on Accelerating Shipping’s Green Transition

Decarbonisation is high on the agenda for the shipping industry. Low-carbon fuels that would reduce shipping’s GHG emissions are already technologically viable. The challenge is how to scale production of these low-carbon fuels, lower their marginal cost and reduce the barrier for adoption of these green fuels and green technologies and incentivise take-ups. To this end, the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) acts as a neutral convenor, connecting stakeholders across the value chain and across sectors to accelerate shipping’s decarbonisation.

We spoke with Dr Sanjay C. Kuttan, Chief Technology Officer of GCMD, to find out more about the GCMD and how this non-profit organisation is adding value to the industry.

Dr Sanjay C. Kuttan, Chief Technology Officer, GCMD.

GCMD’s mission

GCMD aims to accelerate the deployment of green fuels and green technologies and does so by curating projects that trial and demonstrate these fuels and technologies.

“GCMD is more than a think tank. GCMD is a “think-do” tank. We think, plan, curate and do. We are very action-oriented. We execute pilots and demonstrate projects with like-minded industry partners, on top of writing about their possibilities. You can talk about decarbonisation at workshops and meetings, but that alone won’t reduce carbon dioxide emissions. So thinking, talking and doing are actions that complement one another.”

Project Remarccable, , the world’s first end-to-end shipboard carbon capture initiative at scale which GCMD co-leads, will include sea trials aboard Stena Bulk’s identified MR tanker. Image courtesy of Stena Bulk.

Dr Kuttan explains that GCMD is not a proponent of any specific green solution. GCMD identifies the existing barriers that hinder the adoption of green fuels and green technologies, curates projects and executes trials and pilots that would lower these barriers.

“Our impact does not stop at creating a single successful pilot. But the intention is to have our pilots become amplifiers for further action. We let the data speak for itself so that people can become more confident in moving forward in the decarbonisation journey.”

GCMD’s Ammonia Bunkering Safety Study

GCMD does not have any preferred green fuels. Currently, GCMD is conducting an ammonia bunkering safety study to establish guidelines that will form the basis for a regulatory sandbox for ammonia bunkering trials in Singapore. Ammonia is one of several promising zero-carbon marine fuels, but there are many existing barriers to remove before ammonia can be used as a fuel. Bunkering is an essential marine operation, and as the operational conditions under which ammonia can be safely bunkered have not been established, conducting this study is a no-regrets move for GCMD—one with few downsides but many benefits.

The study’s other major objective is to develop a competency framework for seafarers and bunker operators on how to carry out ammonia bunkering safely.

“Identifying the next level of bottlenecks is important so that the appropriate innovation can be applied. We need to know if the barriers are possible for us to overcome. Some barriers may not be worth an attempt. For example, it could be a question of Mother Nature’s basic molecular properties, in which case are unchangeable. Or it could be a lack of engineering solutions, and the need to formulate these before we can move forward in decarbonisation. Or it could be the level of preparedness, and the need to train our seafarers on how to handle future green fuels.”

Taking Stock of Shipping’s Current Fuel Transition

Dr Kuttan speaking as a panelist at The Investment COP organised by the World Climate Summit in November 2022, an event held in conjunction with 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27).

“We could say we are not moving fast enough only if the solutions are already there and people refuse to adopt them. However, the reality is that [sensible] decarbonisation solutions delivering zero emissions at scale do not exist today. We talk about moving faster, but alternative fuels at scale to achieve zero-emissions shipping are not available. Nor are enabling systems—standards, bunker operations, port/ terminals, green fuels production—fully in place.”

At present, there are emerging low-carbon solutions, technologies such as wind-assisted propulsion technologies and air lubrication systems or alternative low carbon fuels such as methanol, LNG, LPG, etc. But there are still multiple factors working against maritime companies and holding them back from implementing these solutions.

First, commercial reasons. For example, ships may be bound by contract obligations to delivery deadlines, thus removing the option of slow steaming. Shipowners are left with little choice but to burn more fuel, which tends to be less environmentally friendly.

Secondly, operational reasons. For instance, wind-assisted propulsion technologies are viable only along windy sea routes. If there is no wind, then application is not possible. 

Thirdly, technical reasons. Should a shipping company decide to switch to methanol as their primary fuel, it still must ensure that methanol-fuelled engines are installed, methanol bunkering vessels are available, and methanol indeed has a lower carbon footprint on a life cycle basis.

Many companies are shackled by their pre-existing business models despite their desire to change their fuel types. In the shipping industry, companies own their engines for possibly 15 to 20 years. Hence, ageing vessels need to be retrofitted with new green technologies i.e., dual-fuelled engines burning ammonia, LNG, LPG or methanol. This incurs significant extra costs, which only few entities are willing to bear.

In most industries outside the maritime sector, the main hindrance to the adoption of energy efficient solutions is the lack of support from top leadership. In the maritime scene, we are fortunate to have leadership that pushes for sustainability, albeit incrementally, by adopting energy-efficient systems. Yet, the maritime industry is still unable to accelerate towards zero emissions because alternative fuels are unavailable at scale.

But we need to do what we can with what we have now. We can do so by modifying operations and applying improved technologies in the near term, adopt lower-emissions transition fuels responsibly in the interim, and conduct studies and pilots on potential green fuels in the long term.

Adopting a “Return on Environment” Mentality

Dr Kuttan feels that the responsibility for progress towards emission targets should not be borne solely by companies in the maritime industry, but by other entities in the value chain too.

“The responsibility lies with the entire value chain, including people like you and me, the consumers. We must be willing to have things come slower and more expensive. We need to help the supply and logistics ecosystems manage the cost of going green. We need a shared cost model.”

Dr Kuttan speaking at the Asia Pacific Maritime exhibition in March 2022, where he shared the importance of collaboration between maritime stakeholders in decarbonisation efforts.

He feels companies need to walk the talk in their efforts on “Return on Environment”, revisiting assumptions about “Return on Investment” and lowering “investment hurdle rates” by using blended financing to lower interest on borrowings or other financial instruments, to ensure that commercial viability doesn’t come at the expense of the environment. The hyper focus on achieving “Return on Investment” is the precursor to the detrimental environmental situation we are in today. Both “Return on Investment” and “Return on Environment” can and should co-exist. Businesses should consider applying technologies that will reduce environmental harm, while managing their business models that will produce a reasonable amount of profit.

“I don’t think people should go bankrupt [adopting green technologies], but I think that the expectation of ‘Return on Investment’ needs to be moderated by the motivation of ‘Return on Environment’.”

Interplay between Poetry and Environmental Protection

As Dr Kuttan is an avid reader and prolific poet, we were interested to know how the arts has shaped his perspective on environmental protection. He believes that a deep consciousness of things beyond what is at face value is essential to the creation and appreciation of literature. This means being aware of one’s innermost feelings towards social, political and environmental situations.

Dr Kuttan reading an excerpt from his poetry collection, titled “Under the Spell of Flickering Lights”, during his book launch in October 2022.

Dr Kuttan finds that his artistic observation skills help him in aspects of his work, such as stakeholder management. He makes it a point to listen attentively to the industry players he interacts with, to properly understand their motivations. This helps him better communicate with and coordinate among the parties he works with.

From years of experience in engaging with stakeholders in such an empathetic way, Dr Kuttan finds that people are not necessarily self-serving even if their actions do not always align with environmental sustainability.

“People are struggling to balance the challenges they face, whether corporate, personal or environmental. When I try to write about it, it makes me reflect and think harder about it. That’s where I think is the nexus between art and what I am trying to do in the sustainability space.”

Want to be part of this green transition in the maritime industry? Visit the MaritimeONE website ( for available job opportunities now!

About GCMD

The Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation (GCMD) was set up on 1 August 2021 as a non-profit organisation by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and founding industry partners BHP, BW Group, Eastern Pacific Shipping, Foundation Det Norske Veritas, Ocean Network Express and Sembcorp Marine.

Beyond the seven founding partners, GCMD has brought onboard 13 partners that engage at the centre level, in addition to numerous other partners that engage at the project level.

Strategically located in Singapore, the world’s largest bunkering hub and second largest container port, GCMD aims to help the industry eliminate GHG emissions by shaping standards for future fuels, financing first-of-a-kind projects, piloting low-carbon solutions in an end-to-end manner under real-world operations conditions and fostering collaboration sectors.


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Mr. Lars Kastrup


Mr. Lars Kastrup is the Chief Executive Officer of Pacific International Lines (Pte) Ltd (PIL).

Prior to joining PIL, Mr. Kastrup was CEO of NOL/APL, and subsequently assumed the role of Executive Vice President, Strategy and M&A at CMA CGM Group. A veteran in the global shipping industry with over 30 years of experience, Mr Kastrup’s other roles include Executive Vice President of Assets at CMA CGM Group heading up CMA Terminals, CMA Ships, Container Logistics as well as regional carriers such as MacAndrews, OPDR and Mercosul; as well as Vice President at AP Moller-Maersk.
Mr. Kastrup complemented his tertiary education with leadership and management training at Penn State University and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ms. Angeline Teo


Ms. Angeline Teo is the Managing Director and Head of Global Transportation and Offshore, Global Corporate Banking at OCBC Bank which focuses on the maritime, aviation, land & port ecosystems.
Ms. Teo has spent over three decades in maritime finance. Prior to OCBC, Ms. Teo was working at ING Bank, ABN Amro and DnB in Singapore focusing on maritime and offshore.
Ms. Teo graduated from the National University of Singapore with a degree in Business Administration.

Mr. John Martin


Mr. John Martin began his career in London in 1989 with Richards Hogg Lindley Average Adjusters, and qualified as a Fellow of the UK Association of Average Adjusters in 2000.
At RHL he worked in their offices in Australia, Taiwan and Hong Kong. In 2003 he joined Gard Hong Kong, as a claims handler. Mr. Martin also worked in Gard Japan, and in 2014 he moved to Singapore to set up the Gard Singapore office.
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Mr. Cyril Ducau


Mr. Cyril Ducau is the Chief Executive Officer of Eastern Pacific Shipping Pte Ltd, a leading shipping company headquartered in Singapore for the past 30 years.

He is also currently the Chairman of Kenon Holdings Ltd and a member of the board of directors of Gard P&I (Bermuda) Ltd. and of the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation Limited, which was established by the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore. He was previously Head of Business Development of Quantum Pacific Advisory Limited in London from 2008 to 2012 and acted as Director and Chairman of Pacific Drilling SA between 2011 and 2018.
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