Slowing ships even further could have some
marginal gains; however, further evaluation of the unintended consequences is
required, according to shipping consultancy Drewry.
The International Maritime Organization’s
(IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) is meeting this week, in
London to further explore methods to achieve its overall goal of decarbonising
shipping, including looking at some proposals that will help move things along
in the short-term.
restrictions on ships supported by environmental NGOs
One such idea that is reportedly being
looked at is the idea of putting speed restrictions on ships, an idea supported
by a group of nine environmental NGOs and 120 shipping companies, none of which
being container lines, in an open letter to the IMO.
The open letter to the IMO did not specify
what the average speeds should be, but with slow steaming being such a
long-established feature of the industry it is questionable how much slower
containerships can go, Drewry said.
speeds for different types of ships
“Our preference would be to set maximum
annual average speeds for container ships, and maximum absolute speeds for the
remaining ship types, which take account of minimum speed requirements. Such a
regulation should be implemented as soon as possible and the obligation for
compliance should be placed both on shipowners and operators, including
charterers,” the letter said.
preliminary research findings
Based on Drewry’s preliminary research it
appears that the benefits, both in fuel cost and consumption terms, from
slowing and adding new ships suffers from the laws of diminishing returns.
Another upside in this scenario for
carriers to consider is that introducing extra ships into the same service
would afford them the opportunity to hide more surplus capacity, which would
theoretically raise utilisation and freight rate revenues even as big new ships
are hitting the water.
For the owners of the cargoes, shippers,
the prospect of slower services and potentially higher freight rates is not so
appealing, although many of them too are under pressure from their own
customers to support a greener agenda.
further evaluation of unintended consequences of slowing ships
“There does appear to be some marginal
gains to be had from slowing ships even further, both in terms of fuel
consumption and cost. Before making this a mandatory requirement, we agree with
Maersk that further evaluation of the unintended consequences is required,”