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Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association: MEPC 77 needs to deliver concrete actions

‘The reason why it is so difficult to decarbonise a global sector like shipping is because the problem lies both downstream and upstream,’ says RBSA Managing Director.




royal belgian shipowners association

The Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association (RBSA) on Wednesday (24 November) released a statement reiterating the significance of IMO's MEPC 77 in delivering a concrete proposal for action to decarbonise shipping:

Shipping is an international sector. To decarbonise shipping, we require an unprecedented level of cooperation at the international level. The best place to achieve that is at the IMO. 

The viewpoint was recently shared by the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the North Sea, Vincent Van Quickborne, at a webinar on alternative fuels in support of Belgian candidacy to IMO Council:

"World trade needs international regulations to make sure the necessary fuels are available. A lot of preconditions will need to be fulfilled outside of the shipping sector. The time to act is now. Together we can shape the future of shipping."

Climate Change is a Global Challenge and Shipping is a Global Sector

Belgian shipowners are fully supportive of the strengthening of the IMO's Initial GHG strategy adopted in 2018, which is at the heart of the discussion at this week's MEPC.

"Climate change is a global challenge that will impact our industry heavily in the coming years. As a small player, we are ready to accept the challenge and fulfil our role to meet decarbonisation goals," said Vincent Durot, Managing Director, Boeckmans.

The Challenges are both Downstream and Upstream

Belgian shipowners have for the past few years been heavily involved in the investment and research in new technologies that would one day help the sector fully decarbonise. 

The RBSA is part of the EU-funded STEERER (Structuring Towards Zero Emission Waterborne Transport) project and the Waterborne Technology Platform, and a founding member of the Maritime Industry Decarbonisation Council (MIDC) think-tank. 

On behalf of all its members, the RBSA has signed the Call to Action for Shipping Decarbonization launched at COP26 calling on governments and the global shipping industry leaders to commit to decarbonising the sector by 2050.

"We need global regulations to be fit for purpose in order for them to work. The reason why it is so difficult to decarbonise a global sector like shipping is because the problem lies both downstream and upstream,” comments Wilfried Lemmens, Managing Director, RBSA.

“New technologies are being developed rapidly, but they need to be scaled up. Much of the issues lay outside shipping itself, such as the transparency of fuel supply chains and the building of new infrastructures to supply the new fuels. As our recent analysis of the proposed FuelEU Maritime Regulation has shown, regulations need to target the right people in order to incentivise change.”

Alternative Fuels and power systems are the Holy Grail

On the other hand, fit-for-purpose international regulations help to ensure a global level-playing field. On the other hand, technologies such as alternative fuels and power systems need to be incentivised and scaled up. Some Belgian shipowners are already preparing themselves with transitional technologies:

"As a leading player in the gas shipping industry, EXMAR is well-positioned with innovative vessels reducing CO2 emissions. We will use our expertise in dual fuel vessels to continue to develop this technology into ammonia-as-a-fuel and CO2-fuelled shipping. We are happy to play an important role in our industry's global decarbonisation efforts," said Jens Ismar, Executive Director Shipping, Exmar.

The reliance of dual fuel as the transitional phase into the use of alternative fuel is likewise echoed by Alexander Saverys, CEO, CMB:

"For the next ten years, we do believe that dual fuel is the only possibility for clean shipping. The alternative of fuel cells has not reached market maturity and they are still too costly to be economical. 

“Furthermore, we believe that dual fuel technology can also solve the ‘chicken and egg’ problem. Now you can’t bunker the clean fuel due to a lack of consumers. Dual fuel will help to create the infrastructure and will minimise the investments onboard the ship as we can limit the storage of the clean fuel to what we typically use. 

“We don’t have to store the redundant fuel in case we have to deviate, or meet strong adverse currents or extreme bad weather, as we can always fall back on the proven diesel supply. Storage of the clean fuel is the most expensive added costs for a clean ship." 

Indeed, as RBSA's Hélène Smidt, Specialist in Maritime Innovation and Finance explained: "To make this fuel switch work, there are five critical pillars: Fuel availability, Fuel quality, Life cycle assessment, Safety, Price tag." 

Concrete Actions Now

Following the Shaping the Future of Shipping conference organised on 6 November during the COP26 in Glasgow, Hugo De Stoop, CEO of Euronav made very concrete proposals for actions which can already be taken:

"Shipping can fully decarbonise by 2050 if we have a set of rules that are clear and stable for the long term:

  1. We have to stop wasting fuels (and therefore GHG emissions) NOW:
  • Operators and service providers must cooperate to avoid speeding up to congested ports;
  • Ships must slow down whenever the market is in oversupply (emissions are exponentially linked to speed);
  • Choose better and more efficient routing through technology and sharing of information.
  1. A worldwide shipping carbon levy is the only way to make a level-playing field between zero emissions   fuels and conventional fuel oil.
  2. And finally we have to stop thinking about it and ACT NOW!“

This urgency is best summed up by Gudrun Janssens, Head of environmental & technical affairs at the RBSA: “We do not need another MEPC to agree on agreeing to work together. We need this MEPC to agree on a course of concrete actions and set it in motion.”

Related: MEPC 77: Governments to decide on ICS USD 5 billion R&D fund to accelerate decarbonisation goals
Related: MEPC 77: IMO must rapidly cut emissions of black carbon from shipping, says Clean Arctic Alliance
Related: IMO schedules remote session of Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 77)


Photo credit: Royal Belgian Shipowners' Association
Published: 25 November, 2021

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Vessel Arrest

Malaysia: MMEA detains tanker for illegal anchoring in East Johor waters

Panama-registered vessel was operated by 17 crew members, aged between 21 to 58 years, from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.





Malaysia: MMEA detains tanker for illegal anchoring in East Johor waters

The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) on Tuesday (28 November) said a Panama-registered tanker has been detained for illegally anchoring in East Johor waters on 27 November.

MMEA Tanjung Sedili Zone acting director Maritime Cmdr Mohd Najib Sam said the tanker was detained by a patrol boat at 11am at 15.8 nautical miles northeast of Tanjung Penawar.

The captain of the vessel failed to produce any documents that permission had been obtained to anchor in Malaysian waters. 

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The vessel was operated by 17 crew members, aged between 21 to 58 years, from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

The case will be investigated under Section 491B(1)(L) of the Merchant Shipping Ordinance 1952 for anchoring without permission. If found guilty, individuals may be fined not exceeding MYR 100,000 or face an imprisonment term of not more than two years, or both.

Manifold Times previously reported law firm Oon & Bazul LLP sharing on steps shipowners should keep in mind before anchoring and conducting STS operations in Malaysian waters to avoid detention.

Related: Oon & Bazul to shipowners: Measures to take before anchoring, conducting STS ops in Malaysian waters

Photo credit: Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency
Published: 29 November, 2023

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Alternative Fuels

DNV paper outlines bunkering of alternative marine fuels for boxships

Third edition of its paper series focuses on LNG, methanol and ammonia as alternative bunker fuel options for containerships; explores bunkering aspects for LNG and methanol.





DNV paper outlines bunkering of alternative marine fuels for boxships

Classification society DNV recently released the third edition of its paper series Alternative fuels for containerships, focused on LNG, methanol and ammonia as alternative bunker fuel options for containerships.

In its updated paper series, DNV examined the different alternative marine fuel options and provided an overview of the most important technical and commercial considerations for the containership sector.

It explored the bunkering technology for LNG, bunkering infrastructure for methanol, and availability and infrastructure of ammonia. 

Building on the foundation laid in the second edition, which focused on the most important aspects of methanol as a fuel, this latest third edition delves deeper  – exploring the technical intricacies and commercial considerations associated with adopting methanol as an alternative fuel for containerships.

Furthermore, it provides an overview of crucial aspects related to ammonia and discusses its potential as an alternative fuel for containerships.

Amongst others, the new edition of the paper looks at the following aspects:

  • Technical design considerations for methanol
  • Commercial implications of adopting methanol as an alternative fuel
  • Ammonia's potential as an alternative fuel
  • Availability, infrastructure and ship fuel technology for ammonia
  • Major updates based on the latest IMO GHG strategy decisions at the MEPC 80 meeting

Note: The third edition of DNV’s full paper titled Alternative Fuels for Containerships can be found here.

Related: DNV paper outlines bunkering infrastructure of alternative fuels for boxships

Photo credit: DNV
Published: 29 November, 2023

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Alternative Fuels

EDF, LR and Arup launch tool scoring ports’ potential to produce and bunker electrofuels

Tool is also applied to three different port scenarios, including ports exploring fuel production and bunkering, ports exploring fuel exports, and ports exploring fuel imports and bunkering.





EDF, LR and Arup launch tool scoring ports’ potential to produce and bunker electrofuels

Lloyd’s Register (LR) Maritime Decarbonisation Hub and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), in collaboration with Arup, on Tuesday (28 November) introduced the Sustainable First Movers Initiative Identification Tool, a system to help shipping stakeholders align investment decisions that support the maritime energy transition away from fossil fuels.

The tool, which is presented in a preliminary findings report – The Potential of Ports in Developing Sustainable First Movers Initiatives – scores a port’s potential to produce and bunker electrofuels while delivering local environmental and community benefits in alignment with the global temperature target of 1.5 degrees Celsius set by the Paris Agreement.

“Ports can play an important role in kickstarting shipping’s decarbonisation process even before global policies are established,” said Marie Cabbia Hubatova, Director, Global Shipping at Environmental Defense Fund.

“By considering the impact sustainable first mover initiatives can have on port-side communities, climate, environment and economies, resources can be better directed to locations where these initiatives will make the biggest difference.”

With close to two billion people living near coastal zones globally, the role of, and impacts on local port communities must be intentionally considered as the sector decarbonises globally. Ports can play a crucial role in ensuring shipping decarbonisation efforts are done in a way that has positive impacts on port communities.

The preliminary phase of the Sustainable First Movers Initiative Identification Tool analyses 108 ports in the Indo-Pacific region according to five criteria including land suitability, air quality, renewable energy surplus, economic resilience and ship traffic.

It is also applied to three different port scenarios, including ports exploring fuel production and bunkering, ports exploring fuel exports, and ports exploring fuel imports and bunkering. The combined criteria and scenario evaluation determines which ports have the greatest potential (high potential) for sustainable first mover initiatives to lead to significant emissions reductions and positive impacts in nearby communities, such as improved air quality and economic resilience.

“The transition to clean energy supply for shipping can be achieved only if stakeholders act together. Identifying potential port locations is the first step in this process,” said Dr Carlo Raucci, Consultant at Lloyd’s Register Maritime Decarbonisation Hub. “This approach sets the base for a regional sustainable transition that considers the impacts on port-side communities and the need to avoid regions in the Global South lagging behind.”

Regions in the Global South are fundamental in driving the decarbonisation of shipping. To make this transition effective, the rate at which different countries adopt and scale up electrofuels must be proportional to the difference in capital resources globally to avoid additional costs being passed on to local communities. Sustainable first mover initiatives can play an important role in making this happen by ensuring the sector’s decarbonisation is inclusive of all regions and by engaging all shipping stakeholders, including port-side communities.

“There’s a huge opportunity for early adopter shipping decarbonisation initiatives to unlock benefits for people and planet – shaping the way for a more equitable transition in the 2030s,” said Mark Button, Associate, Arup. “Our collective approach shows that taking a holistic view of shipping traffic, fuel production potential and port communities could help prioritise action at ports with the greatest near-term potential.”

The tool can be customised according to stakeholders’ needs and goals and is dependent on scenario desirability. The next phase of this work will include the selection and detailed assessment of 10 ports to help better understand local needs and maximise the value offered by sustainable first mover initiatives. 

LR and EDF carried out a joint study on ammonia as shipping fuel, and LR and Arup have collaborated on The Resilience Shift study focused on fuel demand for early adopters in green corridors, ports, and energy systems, amongst many other projects.

Photo credit: Lloyd’s Register
Published: 29 November, 2023

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