Latest TMS Webinar reflects growing optimism that momentum towards green shipping future can be sustained

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Panellist for TMS Webinar

UAE: For its eleventh Webinar in the Covid-19: A Leadership Perspective series, which took place on October 21st, The Maritime Standard focussed on issues relating to green shipping and ports and how the industry can move towards a zero carbon future in the wake of the pandemic. A top quality panel representing several different industry sectors, including tanker operations, container shipping, classification, ports and shipbuilding, reached a consensus that, while the transition is now framed by a different financial and trade dynamic, prospects for a green shipping future are still optimistic.

The early days of the pandemic triggered some notable environmental gains with improved air quality and reduced carbon emissions amongst the benefits seen. But as the shipping industry edges its way into the new normal there are growing questions about what the pandemic will mean in the longer term for move towards environmentally sustainable shipping. In particular, with ship owner finances weakened by the crisis, is it reasonable to expect them to meet IMO and other regulatory targets to the same demanding deadlines?

Kuwait Oil Tanker Company CEO, Ali Shehab said, “I am optimistic, as shipping has showed itself over the years to be highly resilient, and we are in a much better position today, in terms of having the right environmental data for example, than we used to be. But to be successful we also have to focus on the human element if we are to meet green targets, and guard against the Covid fatigue we are now seeing.”

Capt. Mohamed Al Ali, Senior VP, Ship Management, ADNOC Logistics & Services, suggested, “There is no one solution that fits all different operational profiles so shipowners have to focus on how best to design and build vessels based on their deeper understanding of their particular business. LNG is not suitable for every vessel for example, nor is battery power. The IMO 2030 targets are best met by individual shipowners developing the best strategies for their specific requirements.”

Romesh David, CEO, South Asia Gateway Terminals, accepted that to meet environmental targets ports and terminals would have to accelerate measures not just to reduce CO2 emissions, but also to reduce water usage. “While the focus of IMO 2030 will be on the marine sector, the drive towards greener solutions will work their way down the chain to ports and terminals as well,” he said.

Mohamed Zaitoun, Founder & CEO, Zaitoun Green Shipping, focussed on the need for green shipping solutions to be financially sustainable. “Every shipowner should have their own vision and strategy based on the fact that cleaner has to mean more efficient and profitable. They have to manage the risk over 15-20 years of the asset’s life,” he suggested.

A shipbuilder perspective was provided by Hrishikesh Narasimhan, General Manager, Production & Refits, at India’s L&T Shipbuilding. He welcomed the disruption caused by the green transition as it created opportunities for new shipbuilders. “We are watching and waiting but are excited by the prospects and are ready to play our part as a committed green shipyard,” he said.

Pawan Sahni, Business Development Director, Middle East & Africa, DNV GL – Maritime, pointed out that no clear solutions in terms of fuel or technology had yet emerged, with biofuels and hydrogen offering possible alternatives to LNG. “A massive scale up of new technologies and fuels is needed,” he said. “Financial incentives should be provided to encourage a switch to greener alternatives.”

Preparations are now underway for the 12th Webinar in the TMS series which takes place on November 4th at 12:30 pm UAE time. This will assess how women leaders in shipping are successfully introducing new approaches and solutions during the pandemic. A panel featuring some of the top female maritime executives in the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, Asia and Europe will take part proving a valuable and chance to hear their particular insights into the challenges, and opportunities, presented by the crisis, as well as wider issues around gender balance in the shipping business.