'Green' shipping trend a boon for AkzoNobel marine coatings

29 September 2016 05:30 Source:ICIS News

SINGAPORE (ICIS)--AkzoNobel’s marine coatings business stands to benefit from the shipping industry’s expected compliance to more environmentally-friendly or “green” regulations to improve operational efficiency, a senior executive of the specialty chemicals firm said.

“The shipping industry is under increasing pressure to increase its sustainability, improve operational efficiencies, and reduce its impact on the environment,” Oscar Wezenbeek, managing director of AkzoNobel Marine Coatings, told ICIS.

In September, the company launched Intersleek 1000, a new biocide-free fouling control coating that let users save on fuel and carbon dioxide (CO2).

“We have seen an increase in the uptake of premium hull coatings, such as our Intersleek range of products that improve operational and environmental efficiencies, reducing fuel consumption and associated costs and emissions,” Wezenbeek said.

The company has also developed a carbon credits methodology, in conjunction with the Gold Standard Foundation, which financially rewards ship owners and operators for investing in sustainable hull coatings.

Shipping, along with other industries, is under significant pressure to minimise its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) after global warning targets of below 2 degrees were set at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December last year.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is expected to make a decision in October this year on whether to implement a key part of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex VI regulation, which will require vessels to burn fuel oil with a sulphur limit of 0.5% from either 2020 or 2025, “although the earlier date is more likely”, Wezenbeek said.

Based on IMO’s recent greenhouse gas emissions study, the shipping industry’s CO2 emissions could increase by up to 250% by 2050 if the new “green” regulations were not implemented.

“Ship owners are also under pressure from charterers, and shippers to improve levels of sustainability within the supply chain – reducing fuel costs and emissions, as well as optimising operational performance. This means that ship owners with more efficient vessels are therefore more competitive in the eyes of their customers,” Wezenbeek said.

The AkzoNobel executive said that demand for marine coatings improved in 2015 last year as delivery of new ships had risen for the “first time in several years”.

“However, we are now seeing signs of a slowdown in new build activity in Asia, due to declining contracting of new vessels as the shipping industry undergoes a correction of the oversupply of vessel capacity,” he said.

“At the same time we see a slowdown in maintenance and repair as ship owners and charterers feel the pressure of low freight rates, which continue to depress their earnings,” Wezenbeek added.

Although marine/bunker fuel prices have dropped tracking crude oil, new environmental legislation has forced an increase in the use of more expensive distillate fuels in Emissions Control Areas (ECAs), according to Wezenbeek.

“For many years, sustained high fuel prices gave ship owners and operators cause to investigate and introduce measures to mitigate hull roughness in order to unlock heightened levels of operational efficiency,” he said.

“This will require the majority of ship owners to use more expensive distillate products, which will only increase in price as the cost of crude rises,” Wezenbeek said.

AkzoNobel completed in May the expansion of phase one of its performance coatings plant in Cikarang, Indonesia. It invested €2.5m to expand the facility’s capacity by 40%, to serve growing demand for its International brand marine and protective coatings products in the southeast Asian country.

Interview article by Nurluqman Suratman

By Nurluqman Suratman