Shipping lines oppose French call for vessel slow down to cut emissions

FRANCE's proposal that ship speeds be regulated by the UN's International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), is opposed by carriers

16 April 2019 - 19:00

FRANCE's proposal that ship speeds be regulated by the UN's International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to cut greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), is opposed by carriers.

According to London's Loadstar, Maersk has objected to the French proposals that were submitted at the end of last month, and cited a Hapag-Lloyd spokesman as saying that the additional speed reductions 'would not be a good solution'.

He said: 'All container shipping lines voluntarily reduced speed a few years ago, leading to significant reductions in fuel burn, which slowed down the speed of the entire supply chain.

'We have invested many millions to technologically optimise ships accordingly, and we believe additional speed reductions are not in the interest of our customers.

'These measures would have a significant effect on efficiency and supply chain speed, and we would additionally need to invest again into optimising ships for lower speed.'

Data seen by Loadstar shows that ocean liners made improvements in reducing speed from 2008 in an era of self-regulation.

However, ships above 12,000 TEU appear to have started speeding up in 2014, and one source claimed ships of all sizes across the global fleet have been operating at higher speeds over the past year.

'I would like to see the data,' said Hapag-Lloyd's spokesman. 'The fact is, ships have slowed down and shipping companies have invested millions to change ships accordingly.

'We should rather like to see penalisation of those companies which are not using compliant fuel and hence contribute to environmental damage.'

The German carrier has taken measures to cut emission that have gone beyond legal requirements and expects to spend a further US$1 billion in 2020 to comply with the new fuel regulations.

Overall, the shipping industry is likely to spend an extra $60 billion annually in the wake of IMO 2020 that will cap sulphur levels in marine fuel to 0.5 per cent, and one source said: 'Carriers have no interest in speeding up as it is uneconomical, the cost element alone would cripple them.'

Indeed, the 2M Alliance has announced that transit times on China-Felixstowe services would be stretched from 39 to 45 days, and Maersk has unveiled plans to be carbon-free by 2050, far beyond the 50 per cent reduction the IMO is targeting.

In its proposals, the French specified that the plan 'cannot apply to all ship type categories indifferently; in this respect, four large sets of ships can be distinguished based on the recent experience of slow-steaming.'

Among the four groups listed were ships that had not only reduced their speeds but also continued to operate at lower speeds, with it specifying 'containerships'.

'Since the function linking the ship's speed and the emission level is not linear, a further speed reduction would hardly lead to any further significant emission reduction,' it said. 'For those ships, France recommends to further consider the revision of the phase 3 of the EEDI standards.'

Maersk's head of fleet technology, Ole Graa Jakobsen, said general speed limits did not solve the challenge of creating more energy-efficient solutions in the global fleet. He said contrary to popular belief, speed limits reduced the incentive to invest in energy-efficient ships by limiting their economic benefits.


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