INTERVIEW: Langh Ship on Making the Energy Transition Work

by Julian Macqueen, Senior Editor, Ship & Bunker
Friday March 31, 2023

That the coming carbon-beating bunker market is going to be multi-fuel in shape is a reality understood by Finnish shipping company Langh.

The company recently announced a switch from low sulfur fuel oil to biofuel for its boxship Edith but the company's trajectory towards establishing a sustainable shipping entity is well under way.

Chief executive Laura Langh-Lagerlöf told Ship & Bunker that her medium-sized shipping company is looking across the range of alternative fuels and ship technology.

"The cost of retrofitting existing ships for liquified natural gas and methanol is prohibitive so biofuel works well for these vessels," she said.

For newbuildings, LNG and methanol are both possibilities as the systems for those fuels can be built anew. The same would apply when the company was thinking of buying new.

And as far as supply in the emerging multi-fuel market for bunker fuels is concerned, Langh-Lagerlöf does not see a problem in Europe. 

"If your ships go to major ports, such as Rotterdam, supply is not going to be an issue."  The same is true for any major port although she aknowledged that ships plying routes to more out of the way destinations might find sourcing the right fuel difficult.

In addition to the new fuels, Langh's sister company Langh Tech is working with a local university to develop onboard carbon capture systems.

"This is more complex," she admitted as the carbon collected onboard the ship must be stored, offloaded and then put to good use.

Early signs from the carbon capture technology project are positive, Langh-Lagerlöf said.

The technology should be ready for trials onboard a Langh ship this summer. And it fits the company's product profile as it has used hybrid scrubbers, closed loop scrubbers and ballast water treatment systems in its fleet, she explained.

New technology -- and adapting to new forms of bunker fuel -- come at a cost. How does Langh-Lagerlöf view that extra cost from her standpoint as a ship owner?

As the shipping industry moves through its energy transition, the market may concede short-term advantage to those watch-and-wait firms as opposed to those that push ahead towards emissions-free shipping.

Langh-Lagerlöf feels that customers value firms that are serious about reducing their carbon footprint. And if the extra cost of greener shipping is framed by a heightened green awareness in the end user then it could be seen as a price worth paying.

"I am hopeful," she said.