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‘Ships 10% less fuel efficient than those built in 1990’

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Oil Tanker

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A STUDY commissioned by two Brussels-based state-funded eco lobbies, Seas at Risk and Transport & Environment, has disclosed that new containerships built in 2013 are 10 per cent less fuel-efficient than those built in 1990.

According to agency reports, the findings contradict press release from every announcement of every launch of every new ship, which invariably extols the virtues of new unit’s improved fuel efficiency.

Denying industry claims are the two state funded NGOs, which say their study also shows that containerships built 30 years ago already, on average, beat the so-called “Energy Efficiency Design Index” standard that the UN’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has set for new ships built in 2020.

This study of the historical development of the design efficiency of new ships finds that bulk carriers, tankers, and containerships built in 2013 were on average eight per cent less fuel efficient than those built in 1990, a quarter of a century ago.

Reporting this, the British International Freight Association (BIFA) newsletter said these findings contradict claims that shipping has been constantly improving its environmental performance.

Oil prices in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the time when new ships were historically most fuel efficient, were around a quarter of the levels seen in the 2008-2013 period.

However, this is only half the story, as ships have increased in size which reduces the CO2 emissions per container shipped. The group explained that IMO will review the stringency levels of its Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) – the efficiency standards for new ships – during a meeting of its Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) in London from May 11-15.

“New ships today are no more efficient than they were over twenty years ago, despite shipping industry claims to the contrary. The efficiency of new ships has deteriorated by 10% on average since 1990.

“The study also shows that containerships built 30 years ago already, on average, beat the “Energy Efficiency Design Index” (EEDI) standard set by IMO for new ships built in 2020.

“Historical trends in ship design efficiency,” has been carried out by Netherlands-based CE Delft, which describes itself as an “independent research and consultancy organization specialized in developing innovative solutions to environmental problems.”

It was commissioned by Seas At Risk and Transport & Environment (both members of the Clean Shipping Coalition), and supported by the European Climate Foundation.

“This would imply a 30-year stagnation of efficiency improvement, meaning that reducing shipping volumes would be the only avenue for net reductions of emissions.”

The study analyzed the development of the design efficiency of new ships built over the last 50 years, using efficiency indicator values.

The study also shows that, in general, the design efficiency of new ships improved significantly in the 1980s was at its best in the 1990s and has deteriorated in the 2000s.

The best-designed bulkers were built around 1990 and are some 14% more efficient than those built today. The most efficient tankers were built around 1988, which run around 10% better than those built today.

It explained that the difference for container ships was far greater. Those built in 1985 were about 25% better than those built in 2013.

“The relevance of this study for the review of the IMO’s design efficiency standards is that it suggests that ships can improve their design efficiency by 5% to 15% on average just by going back to 1990s designs.

Analysis of the design efficiency of ships that have entered the fleet since 2009 would appear to show this has in fact been happening,” the study said.

Meanwhile, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) recently issued the updated and revised Rescue at Sea guide intended for the rescue of refugees and migrants.

According to IMO, the document provides guidance on relevant legal provisions, on practical procedures to ensure the prompt disembarkation of rescued persons, and on measures to meet their specific needs, particularly in the case of refugees and asylum-seekers.

Available data indicates that 2014 has been a record high year for illegal migration at sea, with migrants putting lives at risk and placing a huge strain on rescue services and on merchant vessels. IMO had in 2014,“pursued actively” its targets and objectives in a wide range of subject areas including rescue at sea.

The global body explained that safety remained a high priority during 2014, pointing out that IMO adopted the safety provisions of the Polar Code and SOLAS amendments to make it mandatory.

“Also adopted were important measures addressing container safety and enclosed space entry drills. Several amendments entered into force during the year. Domestic ferry safety was also a topic of concern.

“2014 proved a busy and productive year for IMO on the environmental front. Among the highlights were the adoption of the environmental provisions of the Polar Code and the entry into force of the Emission Control Area for the United States and Caribbean Sea.

“Further progress was also made on extending and developing energy efficiency measures for ships. “IMO joined other United Nations bodies in calling for action to address irregular maritime migration, an increasing problem from the point of view of loss of life at sea as well as a burden on shipping.

“The Facilitation Committee moved forward on e-business and the single window concept, approving a completely revised Annex to the FAL Convention, while the Facilitation and Maritime safety Committees agreed to look into cyber security.

Action against piracy and armed robbery against ships remained a high priority off the coasts of Africa. “IMO was involved in a series of capacity-building projects across the globe including ship recycling, energy efficiency, counter-piracy and stowaways. “April saw the entry into force of the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, while the Nairobi International Convention on the Removal of Wrecks reached its criteria to enter into force in April 2015.

“IMO joined a UN and industry taskforce on Ebola Virus Disease and continued to work with ILO on seafarer matters. “The importance of effective implementation of IMO measures was a recurrent topic throughout 2014 as it had been chosen as the theme for World Maritime Day.

The Secretary-General spoke on theme at meetings and conference across the globe and recorded a video message highlighting key aspects of the subject.

A host of workshops, seminars and training events were organised all over the world, and work progressed in preparation for implementation of the mandatory IMO Member State audit scheme.” Sekimizu, has also launched the 2015 world maritime day with theme: “Maritime Education and Training” at World Maritime University, telling students and staff that maritime education and training was essential for the long-term sustainability of the sector, both at sea and on-shore.

He said: ““Effective standards of training remain the bedrock of a safe and secure shipping industry, which needs to preserve the quality, practical skills and competence of qualified human resources,” Mr. Sekimizu said, adding that the 2015 World Maritime Day theme provided the opportunity to highlight the importance to everybody, not just within the shipping industry, of there being sufficient quantity and quality maritime education and training available to meet the sector’s needs, now and into the future.

“The 1978 STCW Convention and Code, as amended, has set the international benchmark for the training and education of seafarers.

While compliance with its standards is essential for serving on board ships, the skills and competence of seafarers, and indeed, the human element ashore, can only be adequately underpinned, updated and maintained through effective maritime education and training,” he added.

Addressing the class of 2015 post-graduate students, who have begun their first semester at WMU, in Malmö, Sweden, Sekimizu said that the university was a cornerstone of global maritime education and training and a vital and integral part of the IMO family.

“At IMO, we are unique among UN agencies to have two affiliated educational institutions – the World Maritime University and the International Maritime Law Institute (in Malta).

We are very proud of these and of the many graduates they have produced who now hold positions of responsibility and influence within the maritime community,” he said. Without a quality labour force, motivated, trained and skilled to the appropriate international standards, the maritime industry cannot thrive.

Not only that, but all the many advances that have been made, in terms of safety and environmental impact, are at risk if those at the “sharp end” are unable to implement them properly.

While seafarer training falls to training institutions recognized and authorised by national authorities to meet STCW standards, IMO as an organization supports skills-based training events and the sharing of technical knowledge, through national and regional Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP) training events and workshops, which provide short up-grading courses, based typically on the IMO Model Courses.

On another level, the World Maritime University and the IMO International Maritime Law Institute are at the forefront of IMO’s capacity-building strategy, supporting post-graduate training in order to maintain a cadre of high level managers, policy makers and other key personnel.


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