As persistent high oil prices and the burden of increased regulatory compliance have rendered energy management strategy development crucial for fleet owners worldwide, the shipping industry is on the verge of a new frontier where novel concepts and sophisticated approaches to ship design and performance verification methods emerge.
The world’s major ship building nations agree that a combination of a stubborn global recession and high fuel prices which affect global trade and impact newbuilding orders require innovative thinking, creative strategies and investments in R&D to create the foundations for a new generation of shipping infrastructure which will be more resilient to fluctuating heavy fuel prices and more adaptable to alternative forms of energy.
“Market conditions are not very good at the moment and there doesn’t seem to be a quick-fix solution to the challenges facing the global shipping sector, ” said Oh-Yoon Kwon, General Manager of the International Cooperation Department for the Korean Shipbuilders’ Association (KOSHIPA), which is represented at this year’s Posidonia exhibition with eight of its nine members. First-time Posidonia exhibitor Dae Sun is one of Korea’s ship yards which has felt the pinch from the reduced number of newbuilding orders from Greek shipowners.
Greek or not, owners or suppliers, the world’s shipping industry is fast adapting to a new era of fleet management solutions to improve performance and enhance margins; from newbuilding designs to ship conversions and macro level energy management strategies, shipping embraces bold thinking and innovative technologies to tow itself forward.
At Namura, a major Japanese shipbuilder who is also present at this year’s Posidonia, they are near the end of a three year Green Ship Project designed to break new grounds in fuel consumption efficiency. “Every owner is interested to cut costs down so we are trying to brash up the standard design and develop new technologies that help reduce CO2 levels and fuel consumption by 30 per cent, ” said Kazutomo Taguchi from the planning and development department of Namura Shipbuilding.
The Japanese company has heavily invested in R&D to develop energy efficient designs that include higher efficiency propellers, electronically controlled main engines, improved superstructure shapes that reduce air resistance and rudder fins.
Experts agree that while innovative design is a key component for the fleet of the future, a more holistic and strategic approach is required by fleet owners and the industry at large in order to optimize the benefits for the sector and global trade at large.
“Whatever the price of heavy fuel is in the future and no matter which type of fuel will prevail in years to come, shipowners need to adopt long-term strategies based on informed investment decisions which take into account their bespoke energy needs, potential fuel-saving areas and acquire a good understanding of future fuel types, ” said Nicholas Brown, Marine Communications Manager, Lloyd’s Register.
“In an increasingly complex world, the industry needs more sophisticated approaches to design and verification and Greek and international companies have already adopted tools such as our international energy management standard ISO 50001 in order to track and verify their fleets’ performance, ” he said.
On the flip side, high energy prices have been a bonus for niche maritime infrastructure manufacturers with Singapore seeing a strong growth in its oil rig making and Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) sectors. “Our ship yards are very busy with a lot of offshore oil rig orders for the oil majors. We are investing in the expansion of our existing facilities and development of new infrastructure both at home and away to be able to cope with demand as our yards have existing orders for delivery up to 2015, ” said Winnie Low, Executive Director, Association of Singapore Marine Owners.
Singapore, Japan and Korea are three of the 20 countries which have fielded national pavilions at Posidonia 2012, the biggest shipping trade event in the world, which was officially inaugurated yesterday by Greek Prime Minster Mr. Panayiotis Pikramenos. More than 1, 870 exhibitors from 87 countries are present at the event which is taking place at the Metropolitan Expo Centre from June 4 – 8. More than 17, 000 shipping executives are expected to visit the show.
Posidonia 2012 is sponsored by the Greek Ministry of Development, Competitiveness and Shipping, the Municipality of Piraeus, the Hellenic Chamber of Shipping, the Union of Greek Shipowners, the Greek Shipping Co-operation Committee, the Hellenic Shortsea Shipowners’ Association and the Association of Greek Passenger Shipping Companies.