Tips on Reducing Ship Operating Costs

By Jim Rhodes and Frank Soccoli
Monday, September 16, 2013
Anthony Chiarello, President and CEO of Tote, Inc., is the featured Keynote Speaker at the SHIPPINGInsight Fleet Optimization Conference, October 22-24, 2013.

While there are indications that the shipping industry is starting to emerge  from the doldrums of the last six years, signals remain mixed.  Moore Stephens reported in June that shipping confidence has risen to its highest point since 2010. Indeed, there are signs of a new wave of speculative ordering of new tonnage, propelled by bargain-basement prices from shipyards desperate to fill slots and a reported influx of capital from private equity sources. A primary driver for the surge of orders is the improvements in fuel efficiency of new ship designs over older ships.  On the other hand, in the same month, Moody’s Investor Service issued a negative report for shipping, predicting continued depressed freight rates for at least the next 18 months due to persistent over tonnage in most segments. Moody’s estimates that aggregate industry Earnings Before Income Tax, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) for publicly held shipping companies will decline by 5-10% this year.
The mix of anemic shipping demand, over tonnage, low freight rates, rising fuel costs, tight credit from marine bankers and high costs of environmental compliance to meet new regulations makes for a poisonous cocktail to shipowners. The fall into receivership of STX Pan Ocean, South Korea’s largest bulk ship operator, is a sign of the times. It’s not likely to be the last. Several other shipowners are said to be insolvent and teetering on the verge of bankruptcy. Interestingly, there are reports that certain German banks are offering high-interest “payday loans” against the scrap value of older vessels as a last resort for distressed ship owners who have exhausted their working capital and are unable to obtain financing to continue operations.
The delivery of the first Maersk giant Triple E 18,000-teu containership, coupled with rumors that other container lines are designing even larger ships, into a market already overcrowded with too many ships chasing too few cargos, may be a big gamble that will pay off enormously in terms of market share, but will certainly not help ease the persistent over tonnage.  The crystal ball may be murky, but one thing is clear. Shipowners must reduce the cost of operating ships to survive in the coming years. 
The first place to start is with fuel, which accounts for 40-50% of a vessel’s operating costs. As the Emission Control Areas (ECA) continue to expand, that percentage is likely to rise even higher due to the higher cost of low-sulfur fuels. Ship owners have adopted numerous methodologies to reduce fuel consumption, such as slow steaming, advanced hull coatings, better weather routing and asset management strategies, which have yielded notable benefits. Shipowners are increasingly looking to alternative fuels or hybrid propulsion systems to reduce their rising fuel bills. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) offers considerable benefits over other fuels meeting the ECA requirements for reduced emissions.

Focus on LNG
LNG as a marine fuel is still in the early developmental stages. At the beginning of the year, it was reported that there were 37 LNG-powered vessels in operation (not including dedicated LNG carriers that use “boil-off” gas for ship propulsion). That number will rise to 65 in the next few years based on current orders. A recent DnV study projects 1,000 LNG-fueled ships to be in service by 2020. Most of the current LNG- powered ships are ferries and short-sea carriers, operating on relatively short fixed routes in regions where LNG bunkering is readily available, mostly in Scandinavia. The potential benefits from LNG are impressive. LNG can reduce SOx emissions by 90-95% and CO2 by 25%, according to industry estimates. In the U.S. market, LNG currently sells for about one half the price of other ECA-compliant fuels. There’s plentiful supply of untapped LNG deposits that are now being developed, especially in America, Russia, Qatar and Australia. Even after the increased costs of extracting, transporting, storing and bunkering LNG are factored into the equation, LNG will almost certainly continue to maintain an attractive price advantage over conventional marine fuels. 
On the other hand, it is more expensive to build new LNG-fueled ships or to convert existing ships. One study estimates the cost for a new LNG-powered ship to be about 20-25% higher than an equivalent vessel with traditional fuels. Payback periods for conversion to LNG are said to be three to seven years. This analysis is based on the assumption of an adequate LNG bunkering infrastructure in place at ship sailing ports. 

Barriers to Entry

There lies the rub. The biggest barrier for widespread adoption of LNG at this stage is the lack of a worldwide bunkering infrastructure. Other inhibiting factors for LNG include a lack of LNG-specific training for shore and ship-based staff, as well as the absence of international standards for bunkering with LNG. There are also concerns about methane burnoff during bunkering, causing CO2 release into the atmosphere and increased engine knocking from varying methane number in LNG fuels.
Despite the challenges, a number of forward-looking shipowners are already placing their bets on LNG.  Tote, Inc. rocked the industry when it announced it was ordering two new LNG-fueled containerships for its Jones Act fleet from NASSCO, as well as converting two of their existing ships to LNG, citing a 40% increase in fuel costs to meet the ECA requirements. Interlake Steamship Corporation has likewise announced a plan to convert its Great Lakes fleet to LNG, and Rolls Royce announced at Norshipping a contract with Bergen Tankers to convert a product tanker to LNG engines. DNV has reportedly given approval in principle to the design of an LNG-fueled 14,000-teu containership in a joint industry project involving Daewoo Shipbuilding, CMA-CGM and Bureau Veritas. A CMA-CGM spokesman was quoted in the press as saying the first ship could be built within five years, assuming the ready availability of LNG bunkering.  Fuel suppliers and ports are also working to meet the demand for LNG bunkering facilities. Shell is said to working to provide LNG fueling terminals in the Great Lakes to support the converted Interlake ships. Other companies, including Maersk Lines Ltd. and Crowley Maritime are also working to develop bunkering infrastructure on a larger scale. Stockholm has demonstrated successful ship-to-ship LNG bunkering, and Antwerp recently bunkered an LNG-powered barge by truck.  Antwerp is also said to be putting out tenders for an LNG bunkering vessel. While ship-to-ship LNG bunkering may be the best short-term solution, there is a need for shore-based bunkering facilities at major seaports around the world to sustain widespread adoption of LNG as the marine fuel-of-choice. 

Focus on Fleet Optimization

The 2013 SHIPPINGInsight Fleet Optimization Conference will provide a forum for examining the challenges, solutions and best practices for reducing operating costs and improving ship efficiency. The second-annual conference will take place in Stamford, Connecticut, October 22-24, 2013. The agenda includes a solid list of moderators and speakers, including senior executives from 15 major shipowner companies. The keynote speakers are Anthony Chiarello, president and CEO of Tote, Inc., and Yasushi Nakamura, executive vice president of ClassNK. 
Given the intense industry focus on the potential benefits of converting to LNG, a dedicated LNG workshop is being added to the Fleet Optimization Conference this year. It will take place immediately following the main conference, and is open to all registered delegates. The workshop will take the form of a less formal round-table discussion including shipowners, classification societies, regulatory bodies, engine manufacturers, bunkering companies and other industry experts to take a deeper look into the issues, challenges, solutions and best practices for LNG propulsion.
To view the complete agenda and register for the 2013 Fleet Optimization Conference, go to
www.shippinginsight.com

By Jim Rhodes and Frank Soccoli
Rhodes is president of Rhodes Communications, Inc., a public relations and marketing company specializing in the maritime industry. Soccoli is president of Soccoli Associates LLC, a maritime industry consultancy. They are the co-producers of the annual SHIPPINGInsight Fleet Optimization Conferences.

(As published in the August 2013 edition of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News - www.marinelink.com)

  • TOTE, NASSCO and MAN Diesel & Turbo are leading the way towards big commercial ship integration of LNG as fuel.

    TOTE, NASSCO and MAN Diesel & Turbo are leading the way towards big commercial ship integration of LNG as fuel.

Maritime Reporter October 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Marine Propulsion

Rolls-Royce Bags £12 mi Order from Myklebusthaug Management

Rolls-Royce has won a £12 million order to provide design, integrated power and propulsion systems and equipment for a highly advanced multipurpose service vessel

DNV GL “Modification Excellence Award” for Schiffahrt

Classification society DNV GL recognised that E.R. Schiffahrt has retrofitted seven ultra large container vessels to meet the highest energy efficiency standards

Wärtsilä Integrated Solutions for Maersk's AHTS Vessels

A new series of six Anchor Handling Tug Supply vessels to be built at the Kleven Verft AS in Norway for the Danish based Maersk Supply Service A/S - part of the A.

Ship Repair & Conversion

MSC Magnifica Completes Drydocking at Damen Shiprepair

After a very fast and successful 17-day drydocking the cruise ship MSC Magnifica left Damen Shiprepair Rotterdam (part of Damen Shiprepair & Conversion) for

A Classic Repower

The tug Falcon was built by Modern Marine Inc. in 1978. In the intervening years, companies that employed her have changed hands a number of times until 2013 when Vane Line Bunkering of Baltimore,

Damen to Refit Helix Well Intervention Vessel

After having docked and repaired the MSV Seawell in 2012 and DSV Well Enhancer earlier this year, Damen Shiprepair Vlissingen (DSV) was contracted by Helix UK to

Finance

Asia VLCC Rates Could Could Climb Even More

Owners see rates climb by nearly $22,000 per day; Rates could peak as more tonnage comes free. Rates for very large crude carriers (VLCCs) on key Asian routes

New Players in Singapore Markets in OW's Absence

The downfall of a leading marine fuel supplier that prompted sellers to tighten credit terms in Singapore is skewing the post-OW Bunker jostle for market share

Asian Airlines Pause Before Hedging on Fuel

Oil fell to four-year low of $72 on Thursday; Airlines hope the price will slip below $70 a barrel. Airlines in Asia-Pacific are holding off from hedging their

LNG

World’s First LNG-Ready Ultra Large Container Ship Named

The race is on in global maritime circles to be the “world’s first” in every aspect of environmental friendliness, particularly in regards to the incorporation of LNG as fuel onboard commercial ships.

ClassNK Approves Niigata Dual-fuel Engine Design

Classification society ClassNK has granted approval to the design of the new 28AHX-DF dual-fuel engine developed by Niigata Power Systems Co., Ltd. The new engine

Massive LNG Absorber Shipped to Malaysia

Successful transport of 1,480t absorber for biggest LNG plant worldwide in Malaysia.   1,480 tons and a high center of gravity made the transport of an absorber

Vessels

ESSA's Fleet Upgradation Environmental Driven

State-controlled Exportadora de Sal SA de CV of Mexico ("ESSA"), one of the world’s largest salt exporters with a 10-million-ton annual production, has strengthened

MSC Magnifica Completes Drydocking at Damen Shiprepair

After a very fast and successful 17-day drydocking the cruise ship MSC Magnifica left Damen Shiprepair Rotterdam (part of Damen Shiprepair & Conversion) for

Rolls-Royce Bags £12 mi Order from Myklebusthaug Management

Rolls-Royce has won a £12 million order to provide design, integrated power and propulsion systems and equipment for a highly advanced multipurpose service vessel

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Standards Navigation Pipelines Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Electronics Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1742 sec (6 req/sec)