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Hellenic Shipping News interviews Mr. Dimitris Stamatopoulos, author of the book "˜Shipping Fuels'

Monday, 04 August 2008 | 15:32

In his third book, unique in Greek language, Mr. Dimitris Stamatopoulos reflects the need for an updated version after the success of the second edition (2004). The majority of Greek Shipping Offices and Vessels acquired the book-and it

was-used as a reference manual as well as a comprehensive training tool. The topics covered are of interest and useful to both sea going and shore-based staff, technical as well as operational, practically starting from "square one", thus catering to readers with a different background and experience.
The 350 pages book covers a vast specter of fuel related problems, technical, operational, economical, as well as practical and is well suited for personnel to be engaged or are engaged in fuel related subjects. It also includes all latest legislative developments related to MARPOL Annex VI and EU Directive.

During the past few months, we've been witnessing a series of developments and changes regarding bunker fuels usage, in an effort to turn shipping into a more environmentally-friendly activity. Which are the basic changes that the recent IMO rulings have introduced in the industry?
"ΆΒ Β Β  The main change is a progressive reduction in sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions from ships, with the global sulphur cap reduced from the current 4.50% to 3.50% on 1 Jan 2012. This will be further reduced to 0.50% on 1 Jan 2020.
"ΆΒ Β Β  The limits applicable in Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs) (now known as Emission Control Areas (ECAs) to also control non-sulphur emissions) would be reduced from the current 1.50% to 1.00% on 1 Mar 2010. Emissions in ECAs will be further reduced to 0.10% on 1 Jan 2015.
"ΆΒ Β Β  Exhaust gas cleaning system, alternative technologies or fuels will be permitted to meet the global or ECA sulphur limits. A fuel availability provision was also introduced to allow ships to continue operations in the event that low sulphur fuel is not available. As a result, ships would not be penalized if non-compliant fuel is not available in a port.
"ΆΒ Β Β  As the draft amendments were approved at the 57th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 57) of IMO held in London from 31 Mar to 4 Apr 08 by consensus, they are expected to be adopted at MEPC 58 to be held in London from 6 to 10 Oct 08 without substantial changes. Once adopted, the draft amendments are expected to enter into force in early 2010.
How can these changes be translated in practice for shipowners and the shipping industry in general?
Recent IMO conclusions point to a much stricter marine fuel quality regime in the future, creating urgency for ship operators to invest more on compliance and environmental-friendly practices. It will also require some technical conversions onboard the vessels including burners, fuel pumps etc. Aim would be making ships more efficient by improving fuel consumptions and using waste heat recovery system and emission reduction measures
Is the oil industry ready to deal with these changes and provide cleaner bunker fuels in the quantities needed?
That remains to be seen, for example, the global sulphur cap is to be further reduced to 0.50% on 1 Jan 2020, subject to a feasibility review to be completed no later than 2018.Given that oil prices are hitting the roof already and bunker prices follow this trend, can you estimate the added cost from the usage of low-sulphur fuels for the shipping industry? Switching from marine residual to distillate marine fuels, cost difference will be substantial. Let's take for example the port of Fujairah:

IF 380$ 724/Mt
Extra cost$ 631/Mt or more than 85% increase

Which ways can a shipowner implement in order to save fuels and make his ship more energy efficient?
Through special projects like DNVPS Total Fuel Management, designed as a combined consultancy and technical service that demands detailed studies on how each client is performing his business, offering:

  • Improved environmental performance
  • Reduced fuel consumption
  • Reduced maintenance costs
  • Improved safety
  • Improved risk management
  • Improved reporting routines
  • Synchronized and improved internal cooperation
  • Reduced off hire and lost time in port
    Improvement potentials between 5 and 20% in total fuel consumption have been experienced so far from actual projects.
    We've seen a series of initiatives, from sails fitted on ships, to scrubbers, even lower speeds, in order to save fuel. According to your opinion, which of the above stands a better chance in succeeding?
    It is rather early to draw a conclusion; it could be a combination of the above.
    Take for example, slow steaming, reducing speed had a "double effect" "” a 20% cut in speed would result in a 40% saving in fuel and a cut in emissions. The cut in speed would not have to be drastic. For example, it would need to be a reduction from 23 knots to 20 knots for a containership.
    P&I Clubs are highlighting that slow steaming works better for owned vessels rather than vessels on charter hire. Before making the decision to slow steam, owners and charterers alike need to ensure that their position is protected, both under the terms of the relevant charter parties and under the bills of lading.
    Have SECAs actually improved conditions at the seas where the usage of low-sulphur fuels has been implemented?
    Definitely yes, in terms of emissions. In the current version of Annex VI, the Baltic Sea and the North Sea (including the English Channel) are designated as SECAs. Amended Annex VI will allow a Party, or Parties, to propose designation of other areas as an ECA on the basis of SOx and PM emissions, NOx emissions, or all three types of emissions from ships. These proposals, which are required to demonstrate the need to prevent, reduce and control these emissions, must be adopted by the IMO.

    Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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