Battles on the horizon

Battles on the horizon

Dear Reader

COP 26 has come and gone. So too has MEPC 77. Our pages do comment to so some extent on the former and rather more on the latter.

For shipping, COP 26 had limited direct relevance but there was a certain sense that shipping might have been listened to, a bit, in the margins of the Glasgow jamboree.

But within days, any warm feeling of being noticed that shipping organisations had allowed themselves vanished as MEPC 77 brought them back to reality with the sound of their favourite project being kicked down the road.

So there we have it, another failure at IMO and the only sensible proposal being peremptorily rejected. Or at least that is one widely held view. For a much more balanced and positive account of what the IMO meeting did achieve, read Unni Einemo’s report.

As IBIA’s director and representative at IMO, there are few people who have a better understanding of what is happening at IMO than Unni. She took the opportunity of MEPC 77 to comment on proposals for a realistic way to move forward towards zero carbon. Her message was, to stimulate demand for zero carbon fuels clear regulatory signals are needed. Moreover, a gradual phase-in of a low GHG intensity limit would be the sensible, pragmatic approach.

Right now, however the shipping organisations are focused on keeping their R&D levy proposal alive, and that is reflected in the top story on our Environmental News pages. Their disappointment is palpable and we report in some detail their case that there is pressing need for additional funds to ensure new fuels and new technologies are developed.

Ironically most of the other stories in the same section are about promising new fuels and new technologies. It is becoming difficult to see where exactly this desperate need for more research funds lies. Nevertheless, the shipowners will no doubt battle on.

Battle lines are also being drawn on precisely what fuels will take us to the zero carbon goal. We report on A.P. Moller-Maersk’s significant decision to go for methanol as the fuel for its next generation of very large container ships. The giant liner company plans to develop sources of ‘green’ methanol. For good measure, its CEO Søren Skou has included LNG in his call to stop further development of fossil fuel use.

Skou’s comments have annoyed pro-LNG lobby group SEA-LNG. We carry their rebuttal in our LNG feature, which also reports on the group’s welcome for the COP 26 announcement of an international partnership to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030.

During COP 26 there were repeated calls for a phase-out of fossil fuels, with coal being seen as the chief villain. However, as our Carbon Capture feature reports, technologies that can extract CO2 from emissions, or even just from the air, are advancing rapidly.

I wouldn’t want to give the impression that you will find little else but decarbonisation stories in pages this issue. Far from it, as ever World Bunkering covers a wide range of topics, and includes geographical features on Australia, the Middle East and Northern Europe. All three provide grounds for optimism as shipping moves back to something approaching ‘normality’ despite the continuing pandemic.

For a fascinating insight into quality issues, do read this issue’s Interview.  In her replies to Unni Einemo, Charlotte Røjgaard, the Global Head for testing and inspection specialist VeriFuel, looks at the key aspects of quality and testing as they affect bunker suppliers and ship operators.

There is much else in this packed issue, including a reminder in Legal that it is still a very bad idea to discharge oil overboard and then falsify the record book.

However, on a more cheerful note as the festive season approaches, many of our pages reflect technical advances in support of rapidly changing industry.

So with that, I hope the turn of the year affords us all a chance to take a break, and read the pages of World Bunkering.

Best wishes

David Hughes


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