Beyond Compliance – Vessel efficiency leads to competitiveness

In June 2021, the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) is expected to adopt the proposed amendments to MARPOL Annex VI to make the new Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) a mandatory requirement for all vessels over 400GT. This measure, which mandates a minimum technical efficiency in terms of carbon emissions per capacity tonne mile, will add to the government policy, pressure from lenders, and customer demand that are all driving vessel owners and operators to find ways to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from their fleets.

Houlder can calculate an individual vessel’s EEXI based on the proposed guidelines and perform a detailed assessment of the various improvement measures that can both help to solve any compliance issues while also improving the ship’s fuel efficiency. Assessing the costs and benefits of these measures early on allows shipowners to plan a route to compliance for their fleet as well as achieve actual reductions in fuel consumption.

Houlder has recently worked with Foreland Shipping to conduct a vessel efficiency study for their fleet of Ro-Ros. The study examined the current fleet performance in terms of total annual emissions and attained EEXI as well as comparison with a selection of similar vessels. Focussing on the operational profiles of the vessels – including typical operating speeds, loading conditions and time spent at sea – allowed for a more accurate efficacy estimate for each improvement option, both on the vessels’ theoretical technical efficiency but also on their actual annual fuel savings and emissions.

Chris Bell, Senior Consultant at Houlder commented: “Investing in an independent study allows shipping companies to plan appropriately for the upcoming EEXI regulations, as well as identify measures that can reduce fuel consumption and hence improve the competitiveness of their fleet. By examining a vessel’s actual operational profile alongside the technical aspects of its design, a more accurate estimation of achievable benefits of retrofits or adaptations can be achieved. It doesn’t have to be drastic technological changes that make a difference on a vessel, but it does take knowledge to determine the best steps forward.

“Pressure from charterers is mounting as they continue to consider vessel environmental performance ahead of signing agreements. Those that fail to take action risk their assets falling foul of increasingly stringent regulation and losing business to ‘greener’ rivals. This is, therefore, an opportunity to improve vessel performance and achieve a competitive edge. Making what seems like a small decision now can make a big difference down the line.”


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“Charting a ‘solo’ course through this swirl of uncertainty is close to impossible. That’s why we’re often asked by clients to build their knowledge, evaluate their challenges and assess their options. We work closely with research funds and clean-tech providers by bringing decades of industry experience to bear. Our position is independent, technical ‘client friend’ for the decarbonising decades ahead.”

Rupert Hare, Chief Executive Officer

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