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Marine Propulsion & Auxiliary Machinery

Marine Propulsion & Auxiliary Machinery

Coming! Ready or not

Tue 12 Jun 2018 by Paul Gunton

Coming! Ready or not

Low sulphur fuel requirements are coming and ABS has said that most operators are not ready. Paul Gunton isn’t surprised or worried about that

I have written a few times in recent weeks about future fuel options, so I was interested to see a publication issued by ABS a few days ago that looks at fuel options post-2020.

It is the third edition of its Marine Fuel Advisory, which first appeared in 2010 and was revised in 2014. We published a news item about it on Monday (11 June) with the headline ‘Poll: less than half of fleet ready for sulphur cap’.

That headline was based on one sentence in the report’s accompanying press release and it reminded me of a story (which may not be true; Google has failed to pin it down) about a newspaper editor keen to boost sales on a slow news day. Billboard posters were printed with the big and bold headline ‘No news about the Pope’. The paper flew off the shelves and readers soon realised that, as promised, it contained no news about the Pope.

In the same way, you could be forgiven for assuming from our news item that ABS’ advisory explores the implications of its dramatic poll finding or mentions the poll in some way, but it doesn’t. So as a service to all Marine Propulsion readers, I asked ABS for some background information to its finding.

It had asked shipowners and operators who registered for a webinar in April ‘Is your fleet ready to meet upcoming 2020 global sulphur cap requirements?’ Of the 133 that replied, 53% said their fleets were not ready.

I don’t find that surprising. I am sure many of those owners have put plans in place so that they will be ready when the requirements come into force.

This does not detract from the usefulness and importance of the advisory and I urge all Marine Propulsion readers to study it. It runs to 44 pages and brings together regulations from around the world, fuel standards, factors to bear in mind when using alternative fuels and much more besides.

I was a naval architect when I had a proper job, so I found one short section especially interesting: the impact on ship design of using new fuels. Tank sizes, fuel segregation and its handling requirements will all have an impact on future vessel design and possibly on existing ships. There is a useful table setting out tankage arrangements for different fuel types in a variety of ship types.

What’s my point in telling you this? This isn’t the place for a book review.

It goes back to my comment about the ABS poll result. Although most are not yet ready, eventually all will have to be ready. We have seen from the ballast water management saga that – despite all the information and encouragement over the years – there are still many that are not ready, in particular when it comes to crew training.

If the same situation is to be avoided in 2020, then we all need to be preparing now. And the ABS advisory is as good a place to start as any.

• Last week I wrote about my exclusive interview with Rolls-Royce Marine president Mikael Makinen as he tries to find a buyer for the business. My report is now available online. I know at least one person has read it, because he asked me to put him in touch with Rolls-Royce to explore a possible purchase. If it comes off, my journalistic integrity will of course prevent me from claiming an introduction fee.

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