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Singapore Airlines, Scoot to use sustainable aviation fuel for all flights from Q3

Singapore Airlines and Scoot, the low cost carrier of the Singapore Airlines Group, as part of a pilot program and with support from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and Singapore-headquartered global investment firm Temasek, will use sustainable aviation fuel for all flights from Q3 to expedite decarbonization in the aviation industry.

"This pilot reinforces our commitment towards decarbonization and sustainability across our operations. By collaborating with our partners, we can accelerate and scale up the adoption of sustainable aviation fuels in Singapore," Lee Wen Fen, senior vice president, corporate planning, Singapore Airlines, said in a statement on Feb. 11, adding that the Group was committed to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Under this pilot, it will purchase blended SAF from ExxonMobil, with the product comprising 1.25 million liters of neat SAF, which will be supplied by Neste and produced from used cooking oil and waste animal fats, and blended with refined jet fuel at ExxonMobil's facilities in Singapore, Singapore Airlines said.

The companies did not disclose the blending ratio of the SAF and jet fuel in the release.

"With our Singapore refinery expansion coming on stream in early 2023, we are able to produce up to 1 million mt of SAF per annum to serve aviation markets in the Asia-Pacific region and globally," Thorsten Lange, executive vice president renewable aviation of Neste, said.

Meanwhile, the appointment of ExxonMobil follows a request for proposal on Nov. 10, 2021, to invite select producers and fuel suppliers to develop and execute plans to deliver blended SAF to Singapore Changi Airport. It is a follow-up to an earlier study conducted by the Singapore Government and industry players on the operational and commercial viability of using SAF at Changi Airport.

This blended fuel will be delivered to Changi Airport via the airport's existing fuel hydrant system by end-July 2022, it said, adding that the use of the SAF over the one-year pilot is expected to reduce about 2,500 mt of carbon dioxide emissions.

"We look forward to learning useful operational lessons from the pilot, and working closely with our partners to advance the frontiers of sustainable aviation through impactful industry-wide decarbonization strategies," Frederick Teo, Temasek's managing director for sustainable solutions, also said in the same statement.

SAF prospects

SAF has been slow to take off in Asia for a plethora of reasons including being very costly compared to conventional jet fuel, industry sources. But increased impetus to tackle carbon emissions, a need to maintain reputational goodwill along with ready feedstock availability will likely hasten the momentum toward SAF, they added.

At the Asian close Feb. 11, S&P Global Platts assessed FOB Singapore SAF at $2,361.34/mt. Platts uses a conversion factor of 8.105, which would make FOB Singapore SAF the equivalent of $291.34/b. In comparison, FOB Singapore jet fuel/kerosene was assessed at $104.63/b at the Asian close Feb. 11, making SAF more than 2.5 times costlier than jet fuel.

"I doubt there will be a big impact as I think they [SQ] were saying they will try up to 10% [of SAF], but even then, it's going to be very expensive," a Singapore-based trader said Feb. 14.

"It's taxpayers' money and it's not cheap, but maybe others will differ in their opinion on this," he said, adding that given that the move to using SAF would benefit the environment, "everyone would need to pay up".

According to a factsheet on the International Air Transport Association, or IATA, website, SAF could contribute around 65% of the reduction in emissions needed by aviation to reach net-zero in 2050, with the other contributions coming from new technologies, carbon offset and capture, as well as infrastructure and operations.

The largest acceleration is expected in the 2030s as policy support becomes global, SAF becomes competitive with fossil kerosene, and credible offsets become scarcer, IATA said.

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference, or COP26, last year also boosted the aviation industry's climate ambitions to achieve net zero, with a notable outcome from it being the move by 23 nations to sign the International Aviation Climate Ambition Declaration.

The declaration seeks to ensure the maximum effectiveness of the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or CORSIA, and promote sustainable aviation fuels.

"The pledges made at COP26 show that many governments understand the key to rapid progress is to incentivize technological change and fund innovative solutions," Willie Walsh, IATA's director general, said in November.

"This is particularly true of sustainable aviation fuels, which will play a major role in addressing aviation's environmental impact—they need the right incentives from governments to ramp-up production," Walsh had said.