Refocusing on shipping decarbonisation
by Richard Scott FICS, member of London & South East Branch Committee, 22 September 2020
Endeavouring to cope with many and varied effects from the coronavirus pandemic remains the shipping industry’s principal challenge. But another difficult task is also obvious: how to decarbonise vessel movements.
Publication of a new report a couple of weeks ago has contributed to refocusing attention on this problem. The International Energy Agency has published Energy Technology Perspectives 2020, a voluminous 400-page analysis looking at decarbonisation across all energy-consuming sectors during the next 50 years. Changes affecting shipping are included in detail.
The magnitude of this report indicates the immense size of the puzzle for energy-consuming activities in the world as a whole. For shipping, especially long-haul voyages, the aim of drastically reducing CO2 emissions over the next few decades is described as a “formidable task”. As the authors discuss, one difficulty is that a large input into the decarbonisation process is needed from technologies that are not yet commercially available.
Among potential solutions, the report points to biofuels as one of the most promising fuel options for shipping in the short to medium term. Hydrogen and ammonia are likely to be alternatives eventually. Electrical power from batteries is not feasible for long voyages and awaits a technological breakthrough. LNG is not seen as a long-term solution.
How quickly technical problems can be overcome and supplies of alternative fuels ramped up remains to be seen. In the meantime, a further advantage from ‘operational measures’, which reduce fuel consumption via improved vessel operation and maintenance, is identified as offering a valuable contribution.
New Video About the Dry Bulk Sector
by Richard Scott FICS, member of London & South East Branch Committee, 7 August 2020
At the end of July this year a new short video was released by The International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners, usually known as Intercargo.
The video is entitled Dry Bulk Shipping: Sustainably Serving the World’s Essential Needs. It aims to provide a broad, up-to-date overview of the dry bulk scene, increasing awareness of this sector’s function and vital contribution to global trade.
In an admirably concise summary of prominent features, the video describes the cargoes carried and ships used. It outlines how the sector is striving to meet sustainable development goals, especially tougher emissions standards, aiming to achieve environmental and operational excellence. It also draws attention to the seafarers who are a crucially important part.
Numerous members of our Institute and others employed in the maritime sphere are familiar with this sector, but not everyone in the wider public is fully aware of the role it plays. There is a degree of ignorance about it.
People tend to be, or think they are, familiar with container traffic because this is also visible inland, and tanker trade because it is ‘obvious’ what is involved. But the dry bulk shipping market is more mysterious for many people, and so ignorance of its task is widespread.
What Intercargo has achieved, arguably, is a valuable and palatable guide to the sector, as an introduction and broad view of salient characteristics and the essential role.
New Shipping Markets Analysis Published
by Richard Scott FICS, member of London & South East Branch Committee, 16 June 2020
Detailed up-to-date shipping market analyses are not usually available free of charge. One of the few exceptions is the Shipping Market Review published periodically by Danish Ship Finance. The May 2020 edition became available on 9 June. It may prove valuable for Institute members and students.
This latest edition is especially timely, amid a need for an updated commentary reflecting the coronavirus pandemic unfolding, and with the approach to our Institute’s exams. Answers to exam questions often benefit from knowledge and understanding of current market trends, showing awareness of prominent recent events.
Numerous chapters of the DSF Review merit attention. There is a General Review and Outlook, consisting of a broad perspective on recent events, the global economy and supply chains, outlook for economic activity and seaborne trade, and long-term value creation in shipping.
Other separate chapters focus on the main market sectors: shipbuilding, container ships, bulk carriers, crude tankers, product tankers, LPG carriers, and LNG carriers. There is also a brief update on offshore oil market activity.
The report observes, looking at the broad global picture, that “the shipping industry is facing a difficult year with high fleet growth and shrinking demand...however, the industry seems well positioned to recover further ahead”. Many of us in the Institute will be hoping that this view of longer-term prospects proves correct.