World Maritime News
IMO calls for more pollution research on open-loop scrubbers
The IMO has called on countries, organizations and even its experts to carry out more studies on the environmental impact of open-loop scrubbers on the sea, adding to concerns around the future of the abatement technology and its supporters.
Countries addressing the IMO’s sub-committee on pollution prevention and response, a technical body meeting in London, emphasized on February 20 the need for more information on those effects.
While open-loop scrubbers, which are permitted by the IMO, have faced regional pressure from selected jurisdictions, most recently facing prohibitions in Singapore, China and Fujairah, the matter has recently penetrated the IMO.
The European Union will ask the IMO’s supreme environmental authority meeting in mid-May to consider developing rules for scrubber discharges.
The IMO’s sub-committee on pollution prevention and response agreed on a template for a so-called ‘fuel oil non-availability report’, which crews can use in certain cases where they cannot comply with the regulation. The report will have to demonstrate a vessel was unable to find compliant fuel.
A third of scrubber orders will miss IMO cap deadline
While scrubber uptake in the shipping fleet is increasing as a means of complying with new sulphurI limits set by the IMO, around one-in-three orders will not be completed in time, according to an industry expert. About 2,000 to 2,500 installations will be completed by the end of the year, as many as 1,000 additional scrubbers are on order, but they will not be delivered this year.
There is also an ongoing class society approval issue.
Singapore-based Pavilion Energy expects to start ship-to-ship LNG bunkering at the Port of Singapore in about two years. Its gas unit has signed a long-term vessel charter with Mitsui O.S.K. Lines for the supply of a newbuild LNG bunker tanker. The newbuild, which will be the first charter-in vessel for Pavilion Energy, is to be constructed at Singapore based yard group, Sembcorp Marine. Pavilion Energy will draw down a grant from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore to part-finance the vessel construction. The vessel will be equipped with a membrane-type containment system for up to 12,000 m3 of LNG.
This is the MOL’s second LNG bunkering vessel charter since 2017 when MOL contracted Total for the supply of a 18,600 m3 LNG bunker vessel. Total intends to deploy the vessel to supply LNG bunker at the Port of Rotterdam to CMA CGM.
In addition, Probunkers, the Greece-based company planning a world-wide LNG bunkering network, is inviting proposals for design of its bunkering fleet. Probunkers is looking to build seven LNG bunkering vessels for stationing in seven ports – Houston, Gibraltar, a northern European port (Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp range), Fujairah, Hong Kong, Singapore and Busan. The company is planning to have a commercial, operational and crewing office in each of seven regions. Probunkers will be required by Jones Act to build one of the vessels in the US for operating out of Houston.
Landmark year for US LNG
US LNG export capacity is set to double this year to become the third largest in the world after Australia and Qatar, according to the Energy Information Administration.
An agency report called for continued investment in LNG capacity to ensure supply growth keeps up with rapidly growing global demand.
While the number of new projects remains similar to 2017 levels, the scale has more than doubled, according to consultancy Wood MacKenzie.
Buoyed by the shale revolution, the US has emerged as a low-cost producer of LNG.
Despite strong Asian appetite for US LNG, the US administration is also making efforts to increase LNG trade with Europe.
US energy secretary Rick Perry toured Eastern Europe over the summer to expand energy partnership in the region and found a willing partner in Poland.
German LNG imports have also been a target of the US government, pointing out Germany’s over dependence on Russian gas supplies. Deputy secretary of the US Department of Energy Dan Brouillette acknowledged LNG more expensive than piped gas from Russia, but diversifying supplies would benefit the national security of Europe.
Panama Canal expansion sparks US ports competition
The widening of the Panama Canal has clearly affected the transpacific container trade, giving exporters more discretion over the routing of their cargoes by using the all-water route to bypass the US West Coast. As shown by a protest rally outside of the Port of Los Angeles in January, members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union oppose further automation in the San Pedro By ports complex. While automation might be the way to speed up throughput in the competition for discretionary cargoes, efforts to implement automation carelessly might also result in shutting the ports down completely.
JLL Research took note of the situation in a recent report, which anticipate Panama Canal to benefit the Gulf Coast ports in the near term more than the East Coast ports, to the detriment of West Coast ports.
Ports sector failing to take cyber security seriously
The ports sector and wider maritime industry are failing to take cyber security seriously enough and is unlikely until a major incident occurs, experts have warned.
Speaking at the Smart Ports conference in London in Week 8, Centre for Strategic Cyberspace and Security Centre vice-president David Nordell said industry organization recommendations were not enough.
“Until the maritime industry actually suffers a really seriously embarrassing disaster that causes loss of life or massive loss of money, people are not going to take it seriously,” he said.
There were very few technical solutions and many did not understand that technology would be needed to protect the industry from things such as distributed denial of service attacks.
The driver for change may end up coming from hedge funds, according to CSO Alliance director Mark Sutcliffe. “There are huge hedge fund investments in ports, and port management will increasingly come under pressure from owners to improve security.”
Torm joins Inatech on app to tackle bunker complexity post-2020
Torm, the Danish product tanker operator, is among the first clients to use a new toolkit that scours the globe in real time to find optimal bunker ports.
The Smart Trade app, developed by Glencore affiliate Inatech, which specializes in energy trading risk management systems, will enable companies to map their entire fleet of ships and visualize best routes given sea and port conditions to achieve lowest prices for desired quality of fuel.
It uses bunker alerts and pricing data from S&P Global Platts; Torm worked with Inatech on the app’s design.
The technology was vital because the sulphur cap would not only increase costs, but could also trigger “unprecedented volatility in prices” as a widening array of choice between fuel oil types skewed supply and demand dynamics in a confused market.
The app is powered by S&P Global Platts data spanning refined wholesale and retail marine fuels including standard ultra-low sulphur, low-sulphur, and intermediate fuel oils, marine gasoil and marine diesel oil grade at more than 350 ports worldwide, along with regional indices, 28-day spreads, and moving averages.
Growth is slowing but no recession in sight for 2019
Economist Nariman Behravesh told delegates at the Journal of Commerce’s TPM conference in Long Beach that global growth is slowing, but that no recession is forecast for the coming year. The risk of a recession is about “one-third”, he said, but added there is a 50-50 chance of recession in 2020 and 2021 due to factors such as policy mistakes, oil shocks, or bursting asset bubbles.