Operators of offshore service vessels could be saving as much as 10-15% in their bunker bills and emissions, according to maritime data firm Opsealog.
The firm specialises in using maritime data analytics to optimise fleet performance, with a particular focus on the offshore industry.
This segment has significant opportunities for fuel savings as the shipping industry seeks to minimise bunker consumption to reduce its carbon footprint, Damien Bertin, business director at Opsealog, said in an interview with Ship & Bunker.
"There are two main categories of actions," Bertin said.
"The first category relies on the vessels' behaviour. That means how the vessels are being used by the crews in terms of speed, and the number of engines, among others.
The second one is the logistics part and planning organisation from the charterer, from the oil and gas companies. Here, for instance, something that automatically comes to my mind is idle time.
"This is something really massive, the time spent by vessels during which basically they are paid but doing no operations. As a benchmark, with about eight years of experience, this is about 50% of their time.
"Sometimes idle time is fair, because we can't expect ourselves to be working 100% of the time, but on other occasions this can be improved; for instance, where vessels are standing by because they are waiting for instructions, because they are waiting for the port to be ready.
"We can analyse the time vessels were idle, understand the reasons why and then open a discussion with the organisation of our customers to see what could be done to reduce this idle time."
The company's service does not rely on hardware installed on ships, Bertin explained.
"We do not install anything on board; our solutions are hardware-free," he said.
"That means, quite importantly for charterers and shipowners, there is no need to stop operations.
"The first solution that is deployed on board the vessels, this is the solution that replaces the very famous daily reports that are generated every day by all vessels working for oil and gas companies, usually done in the old-fashioned way like Excel sheets.
"Vessels will have to report exactly the same information, the same amount of information, but in a digital way.
"This is where the big difference starts, because when you report in a digital way, that means all data points that are collected from the vessels potentially can lead to analytics to analyse this, and ultimately to optimisation."
While some parts of the shipping industry are pursuing slow steaming as a means of optimising fuel efficiency, Opsealog does not recommend this in all cases.
"Giving the vessels the instruction to say always slow steaming is not really practical and pragmatic," Bertin said.
"Sometimes slow steaming is not the best solution, because probably it would have an impact on the operations, it could also have an impact on the engine utilisation and create some other challenges.
"Obviously reducing speed is one of the most obvious factors to reduce the fuel consumption, but there is no golden rule.
"This is where our experience, algorithms and also human experts play a key role, because we need to understand the specificities of each operator, of each country – operating in the UAE is not the same as operating in Brunei, which is not the same as operating in the Gulf of Mexico, for instance.
On average, the company expects to be able to save its customers 10-15% in their fuel consumption.
"With the use cases that were shared in the white paper for ADNOC Logistics & Services (L&S) and Shell in Brunei, this is exactly the kind of range," Bertin said.
"When we started the trial with both of them, we ended up with a 10-12% saving, which met their expectations, and this is how we have been able to extend the contract.
"Thanks to the data we collect and our expertise, we can also be very specific in our analysis and recommendations. We can recommend where we can install mooring buoys when vessels are idle, and this is what was done with some customers in West Africa.
"ADNOC L&S already had some mooring buoys installed, and we analysed the frequency and usage of the mooring buoys, and actually, they were not used that much.
"After the analysis, ADNOC L&S changed their recommendations and gave instructions to vessels to go to the mooring buoy as often as they could, and this generates huge savings at the end of the year."
These fuel savings mean the service can pay for itself relatively quickly, Bertin said.
"This is what our clients expect – if I pay $1, what kind of savings will I get?" he said.
"Historically, we have been able to achieve a return on investment higher than 200%. So that means when they pay $1, they save $3; when you deduct the $1 they have paid, they are still left with the $2 saving."
At present, the company's services cover around 300 vessels, but the firm is seeking to increase that number.
"We see more customers coming in the next years; 300 ships, that's not 100% of all the oil
and gas vessels in the world," Bertin said.
"There's still room to gain more market share."
"We are anticipating big changes to come in the future, with the regulations that are changing a lot.
"What is applicable today to the other maritime sectors is not yet always applicable to OSVs, for example, but soon they will have to comply with the same kind of regulations."
But the company is also planning to branch out beyond the OSV segment.
"That's absolutely part of the plan," Bertin said.
"We are trying to diversify our solutions with the same kind of objectives in mind.
"The feedback we got from the market and our studies and analysis is that most of the shipowners are not really equipped to do the first step, which is to measure their emissions."