The shipping industry needs to take immediate action to ensure compliance with the upcoming FuelEU Maritime regulation, according to marine fuels firm Baseblue.
While much industry discussion has focused on the EU's introduction of shipping to its emissions trading system, less attention has been paid to the FuelEU Maritime regulation.
This rule enters force at the start of 2025, and will require ships trading in the EU not to exceed a fixed measure of yearly GHG intensity of energy used.
In practice this will require a shift of a portion of each ship or fleet's marine fuel consumption to shift to alternative fuels with lower net GHG emissions.
Dionysis Diamantopoulos, the new head of alternative fuels at Baseblue, set out how his firm is advising shipping companies on preparations for the change.
"The biggest factors that the shipping community should be looking at first of all are the options for alternative fuels, pathways of compliance, cost-benefit and feasibility analysis on their upcoming strategic planning for next year," Diamantopoulos said.
"We pride ourselves in trying to have a holistic approach to the whole of the regulations, meaning not only approaching the EU-ETS with appropriate seriousness, but also touching the points of the other legislative aspects.
"We feel that FuelEU has been a bit cast aside, in a sense, by the shipping companies, because obviously the hot potato at the moment is EU-ETS.
"We're working relentlessly and have formed strategic alliances to procure and help our clients with the EUA requirements, and analysis of the costs et cetera.
"For FuelEU specifically, we treat it in the same way, meaning that we are going out in the market, we are educating, offering seminars and full-fledged training for the entirety of the regulatory package.
"This is aimed at providing our clients and potential clients with a further ground of understanding, a deeper understanding, and an open dialogue between the two companies that ultimately aims to assist them with the pathways to compliance and formulating strategies."
Biofuel bunker blends are likely to be the most popular solution at the start, Diamantopoulos said.
"We hold an extensive network of biofuel suppliers, which is the most prominent immediate and medium-term pathway of compliance for vessels that are running on conventional fuels," he said.
"We're offering an extensive range of products that will assist our clients in choosing the appropriate way of compliance.
"Baseblue is ISCC-certified, meaning that we are able to provide not only the biofuels themselves, but also proof of sustainability within the accredited organisation, that will eventually allow our clients to claim the emissions reductions for the EU ETS, but also the compliance units for FuelEU."
But availability of these blends may be an issue for some.
"At the moment we see that there are pockets of availability, especially in big flow ports such as Singapore and Gibraltar," Diamantopoulos said.
"The ARA region is the king due to the national subsidies of the Netherlands, and we see the Middle and Far East also picking up with China and Fujairah entering the game.
"For some regions though, it is still a challenge to secure avails.
"For these cases proactive planning is key for securing timely solutions and even potentially create a tailor made supply chain."
For shipowners operating in regions with limited biofuel availability, compliance may be more of a challenge.
"They should check the possibilities and formulate a strategy of potentially running another vessel or part of their fleet in a ‘green corridor’, ports/areas where biofuels would be available, and try to compensate with these other vessels and share this over-compliance with their under-compliant vessel.," he said.
"Unfortunately, if we're talking about a shipowner that only has one vessel and doesn't have the ability to do this, they might need to venture out and find other pools of cooperation, and share compliance.
"I would suspect that would come with a cost.
"If this is also not an option, and one is just left alone with a single vessel, not having any other operations will have to discover solutions in order to achieve compliance. Baseblue can assist in working proactively and closely with our clients and extensive network of suppliers to explore and create these solutions even in the most of the difficult cases."
The most important message for shipowners to take on is the need to act now to avoid risking non-compliance next year, Diamantopoulos said.
"Proactivity is key in order to plan this," he said.
"These new fuels are better to be tested on how they run on specific vessels/engines in order to understand their behaviour and ensure crew familiarization.
"Moreover one would need to get relevant approvals from engine manufacturers for such use.
"You need to act and start working in order to be ready to be compliant in 2025."