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Alternative Fuels

An interview with Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO Maritime, DNV

A third of vessels on orderbooks, by gross tonnage, are being built to operate on alternative bunker fuels with LPG and the first hydrogen-fuelled designs also generating interest, says Ørbeck-Nilssen.

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Knut Orbeck Nilssen

Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO Maritime, DNV, says that while progress towards industry decarbonisation should be applauded, it must be accelerated. Shipping needs to work together, in tandem with other sectors and stakeholders, if we’re to stand a hope of reaching our most ambitious, and necessary, goals. Nor-Shipping, he believes, with its 2023 theme of #PartnerShip, is an ideal platform for progress.

It’s difficult to know what’s going to happen in the next ten days, let alone the next ten years.

So, how are shipowners and operators, eyeing investments with timescales of 25 to 30 years, expected to make optimal long-term decisions, especially regarding fuels?

And how can an organisation like DNV, the world’s leading Class society, make the right decisions to advise them? Surely it’s impossible to navigate a landscape that’s yet to take shape? Isn’t it?

Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of the Maritime division at DNV, smiles.

He is a man who, as befits his position, exudes a steady calm and confidence… Even though he’s just ran from another meeting and has yet to eat his lunch, which he pushes aside to deliver his answer.

“That’s why big decisions can’t be taken alone,” he replies. “Everybody needs partners; no one can prosper, or change, in isolation, and that’s especially true when we consider an energy and technology transition of the scale facing shipping.

“We need one another to navigate the future, now more than ever.”

 Alternative options

Ørbeck-Nilssen isn’t just being nice here. This isn’t a platitude; it’s a cornerstone of his, and DNV’s, vision.

He’s been quoted over the past year or two as noting that “collaboration is the true fuel of the future” and 2022, with its unpredictable geopolitical, economic and environmental challenges, seems only to have deepened that conviction.

He talks of “significant barriers” that have to be overcome together, but before addressing the future wants to dwell on the present – recognising achievements so far.

“It’s encouraging to see that some of the key issues highlighted in past editions of our Maritime Forecasts and Reports have been picked up by the industry,” he comments, referring back to previous statements identifying LNG as arguably shipping’s “most feasible transitional fuel”.

“If we look at newbuild ordering there’s now an established trend for alternative dual-fuel propulsion, with LNG as the dominant fuel, especially amongst the larger, deep-sea segments. A third of the vessels on the orderbooks, by gross tonnage, are being built to operate on alternative fuels, with LPG and the first hydrogen-fuelled designs also generating interest.

“So, we can see concrete proof that the transition is gathering pace, with regulatory pressure, access to investment and capital, and cargo owner and consumer demands as the key drivers. But is it moving fast enough?

“Well, that’s another question.”

dnv ceo 2

Clearing the hurdles

And the answer, he implies, is ‘no’.

Ørbeck-Nilssen says that “substantial investment” is needed – “and quickly” – in terms of researching safe and economically feasible carbon neutral fuels, as well as developing the optimal technologies to utilise them.

However, that will be in vain, he stresses, if the main hurdle to progress can’t be overcome, namely, fuel availability:

“According to our recent Maritime Forecast to 2050 report, we need to produce 5% of shipping’s total energy consumption from carbon-neutral fuels by 2030. That requires huge investment… and it’s just the start.

“And if the IMO strategy is revised in 2023, pushing for full decarbonization by 2050, then we require the means and infrastructure to deliver around 270 million tonnes of alternative fuels, according to our research. That is a massive challenge, and it requires action, now.”

He continues: “It goes without saying, this is an issue that shipping cannot resolve alone. We need to see collaboration in the industry, for sure, but beyond that we have to work in unison with energy producers, infrastructure developers, ports, and, not least, national and international authorities and organisations to enable such fundamental change.

“This goes beyond working within our ‘tribes’ – it’s a global issue of critical importance.”

But, of course, it’s difficult to know where to place bets when it comes to that fuel.

Should a shipowner today invest in assets running on natural gas for tomorrow, or will it pay to be an early mover on hydrogen, ammonia or any other emerging alternative?

This, Ørbeck-Nilssen retorts, is where DNVs ‘pathways’ come in.

Solving the puzzle

Arguably, DNVs core strengths lie in its neutrality and acknowledged expertise and networks in a broad range of industries and disciplines. It has teams spanning maritime, oil & gas, carbon capture and storage, renewables, technology, and more, in addition to strong links with academia, authorities and other key societal stakeholders. As such it can understand the “big picture” and see how pieces of the transitional puzzle might fit together, helping mitigate risk, enhance safety and facilitate development.

It's pathways – again, featured in the latest Maritime Forecast to 2050 – detail likely scenarios on the journey towards decarbonisation, considering factors such as fuel availability, costs and the apparent lack of one “silver bullet” solution.

“There’s so much uncertainty,” Ørbeck-Nilssen stresses. “The only things that are certain are that we need to change, and that the future fuel mix, at least in the near-term, is going to get more complex, with a wide variety of energy choices emerging. That creates obvious challenges for the industry.

“The pathways address that, helping plot potential routes to decarbonisation.”

As an example, he picks an owner opting for LNG today.

“Now, they know this isn’t a perfect fuel,” he explains, “but it enables substantial gains over conventional heavy fuel, utilising proven technology. So, on the ‘gas pathway’ they use LNG as the first step, before switching to bio-gas and then later transitioning to synthetic gas. That’s an over-simplified example, but it shows how you create clarity as you move ahead with business strategy and investments.”

This “clarity from confusion” wouldn’t be possible, Ørbeck-Nilssen notes, without an understanding drawn from close relationships throughout the industry and beyond.

“It all comes back to partnership.” 

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Collective ambition

A further example of that, and of DNV’s role as a key enabler for an industry in transition, is the recently unveiled Nordic Roadmap initiative.

This follows on the back of the Clydebank Declaration at COP26, where shipping “green corridors” were identified as a key tool for accelerating change. In a bid to position the region at the vanguard of developments, the Nordic Council of Ministers, with support from all the Nordic nations, set up the project as a “cooperation platform” creating unity of purpose. The result is a joint public and private initiative aiming to bring together diverse stakeholders to enable green corridor infrastructure, start pilots, share knowledge, build alternative fuel experience and, Ørbeck-Nilssen says, “set an example for other regions to follow.”

DNV has been brought in as project manager, recently hosting the first meeting at the company’s Høvik HQ in Oslo.

“When you look at the industry in its entirety, the scale and complexity of change needed can seem overwhelming,” he notes. “But if you take separate regions, and look at establishing individual green corridors, it makes the challenge more manageable. Then, when you bring together diverse partners, it’s suddenly possible to work towards concrete, achievable goals – goals that can form a blueprint for the industry in general.

“It’s a really exciting example of partnership in action.”

The Nor-Shipping connection

The repetition of the ‘p-word’ brings us on to Nor-Shipping.

The 2023 event, taking place in Oslo and Lillestrøm, 6-9 June, has chosen #PartnerShip as its main theme.

Needless to say, Ørbeck-Nilssen approves, confirming that DNV has once again secured the position of Main Partner.

“Nor-Shipping is a fantastic meeting place for the global industry,” he comments, “bringing people from right across the ocean value chain together in one place. As such, it provides a physical platform for partnership, and progress, helping build relationships, share knowledge and highlight the latest developments.

“We need this kind of face-to-face interaction,” he continues. “And, on a personal level, it’s always so rewarding meeting people, discussing issues and gaining new insights. It’s a constant source of learning. 

And, not least, it’s fun!”

Here he mentions the traditional Nor-Shipping BBQ at DNV’s fjord-side facilities, which, he adds with a broad smile, is back.

“I’m really looking forward to the chance to host a few thousand guests again,” Ørbeck-Nilssen concludes. “It’s great to see the industry coming together here and, of course, it’s helpful Nor-Shipping is back in the summertime. It’s always a bit more pleasant to have a chat, drink and something to eat when the sun’s shining!”

And with the talk of food, he takes the chance to politely, finally excuse himself.

Lunch, and the next meeting with industry partners, beckons.

Note: For more information on the event, please visit www.nor-shipping.com

Photo credit: Nor-Shipping
Published: 11 January, 2023

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Newbuilding

Singapore: EPS orders ammonia, LNG dual-fuel vessels from China

EPS signed one contract for a series of ammonia dual-fuel bulk carriers with CSSC Beihai Shipbuilding and another for a series of LNG dual-fuel oil tankers with CSSC Guangzhou Shipbuilding International.

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Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS) on Wednesday (28 February) said it signed two new contract orders in a signing ceremony in Shanghai, one for a series of ammonia dual-fuel bulk carriers with CSSC Beihai Shipbuilding and another for a series of LNG dual-fuel oil tankers with CSSC Guangzhou Shipbuilding International. 

The contracts signed cover four 210,000 dwt ammonia dual-fuel bulk carriers and two 111,000 dwt LNG dual-fuel LR2 oil tankers, expanding our fleet of green vessels on water. 

“These are pivotal for EPS, testament to our continued commitment towards the decarbonisation of shipping,” EPS said in a social media post.

Manifold Times recently reported EPS signing a contract for its first ever wind-assisted propulsion system, partnering with bound4blue to install three 22-metre eSAILs® onboard the Pacific Sentinel

The turnkey ‘suction sail’ technology, which drags air across an aerodynamic surface to generate exceptional propulsive efficiency, will be fitted later this year, helping the 183-metre, 50,000 DWT oil and chemical tanker reduce overall energy consumption by approximately 10%, depending on vessel routing.

Related: Singapore: EPS orders its first wind-assisted propulsion system for tanker

 

Photo credit: Eastern Pacific Shipping
Published: 1 March 2024

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LNG Bunkering

Malaysia: Port of Tanjung Pelepas completes first LNG bunkering operation

Landmark event involved the CMA CGM Monaco, a 14,024 TEUs containership operated by French shipping giant CMA CGM.

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Port of Tanjung Pelepas Sdn Bhd (PTP), a joint venture between MMC Group and APM Terminals, on Wednesday (28 February) announced a significant milestone with the successful completion of its first Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) bunkering operation. 

The landmark event involved the CMA CGM Monaco, a 14,024 TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) capacity containership operated by French shipping giant, CMA CGM.

Tan Sri Che Khalib Mohamad Noh, Chairman of PTP in a statement remarked this latest milestone demonstrates PTP’s commitment to continuously enhance its competitive advantages in an increasingly competitive global market.

“The successful completion of our first LNG bunkering operation also underscores our unwavering commitment to sustainability and environmental leadership. We are proud to partner with Petronas Trading Corporation Sendirian Berhad (PETCO) and CMA CGM on this initiative and showcase PTP’s capabilities as a leading facilitator of clean and efficient maritime operations.”

“This milestone paves the way for further growth in LNG bunkering at PTP, contributing significantly to the decarbonisation of the maritime industry.”

Commenting on this achievement, Mark Hardiman, Chief Executive Officer of PTP stated this latest milestone further highlights PTP’s position as the largest transshipment hub terminal in Malaysia.

“In preparation for the LNG bunkering operation, PTP worked closely since March 2022 with PETCO and CMA CGM, as well as with various other related government agencies to organise table-top exercises (TTX) and workshops, before carrying out the deployment exercise.”

“The success of the bunkering operation is a result of the seamless collaboration and preparations involving rigorous safety procedures through in-depth operational and risk assessments, modelling, and validation. We thank PETCO, CMA CGM all other involved parties for their joint efforts in operationalising the bunkering capability and we welcome partners to work with us to accelerate maritime decarbonisation,” said Hardiman.

Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) is Malaysia’s largest transshipment hub with the capacity to handle 13 million TEUs annually. The port delivers reliable, efficient, and advanced services to major shipping lines and box operators, providing shippers in Malaysia and abroad with extensive connectivity to the global market. PTP is currently ranked 15th among the world top container ports.

 

Photo credit: Port of Tanjung Pelepas
Published: 1 March 2024

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Alternative Fuels

Wallenius Wilhelmsen to order four additional methanol DF PCTCs

Newbuilds will also be ammonia-ready and able to be converted as soon as ammonia becomes available in a safe and secure way.

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Wallenius Wilhelmsen PCTC order

Roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) shipping company Wallenius Wilhelmsen on Tuesday (27 February) declared options to build four additional next-generation Shaper Class pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) vessels.

The 9,300 CEU methanol dual fuel vessels can utilise alternative fuel sources, such as methanol, upon delivery. They will also be ammonia-ready and able to be converted as soon as ammonia becomes available in a safe and secure way.

“Together with our customers we are committed to further shaping our industry and accelerating towards net zero. These new vessels are a vital part of that journey,” says Xavier Leroi, EVP & COO Shipping Services.

This latest commitment brings the total number of Shaper Class vessels currently on order with Jinling Shipyard (Jiangsu) to eight. Wallenius Wilhelmsen also retains further options.

The first of the Shaper Class vessels already ordered are expected to be delivered in the second half of 2026. The four additional vessels under the declared options will be delivered between May and November 2027.

 

Photo credit: Wallenius Wilhelmsen
Published: 1 March 2024

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