Eco Ships Not the Only Solution For Reduced Bunker Costs

Tuesday March 26, 2013

Speaking at last week's CMA Shipping 2013 event in Stamford, Connecticut, chief operating officer of Bibby Ship Management, Simon Barham, said that even as the shipping industry looks at fuel-efficient newbuildings it must also find fuel-saving solutions for existing ships, Maritime Executive reports.

"The eco ships are coming but they won't be here overnight," Barham said.

"The existing fleet is relatively young and a high percentage of the vessels that are out there today are those which need to be managed efficiently."

Barham said options for more efficient use of existing vessels include slow steaming, but that can cause maintenance problems and put owners at a disadvantage.

Ship energy efficiency management plans (SEEMPs), design modifications, and better weather routing can all help drop fuel use as well, he said.

At the same time, Barham said shipowners must address the need to switch fuels when moving in and out of emissions control areas (ECAs).

"Switching on to low sulphur fuel is not a problem but switching on to gas oil is and that will need some modifications to the vessel," he said.

"The main engines themselves are not designed to burn light fuels.

"That will mean that changes will have to be made – pumps will have to be examined, even the design of some ships will have to be looked at because it is debateable whether some ships will actually have enough space to carry the additional bunker fuel tanks."

Barham also warned that some shipyards may be exaggerating the savings that eco ships can provide.

"I believe that ship managers will play an important role in controlling consumptions not only on existing ships but also on the eco ships of the future," he said.

A recent study found that 69 percent of the shipping industry sees fuel-efficiency as the key area where improvement is needed, but there is little consensus on the need to buy new eco ships, with some arguing that they do not offer sufficient return on capital to justify the investment.