Friday, 17 August 2018 14:21

Contaminated bunkers a growing concern

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INTERTANKO has released a Critical Review that shines a spotlight on contaminated marine fuels and the lack of any response by authorities. Since late May 2018 there have been an increased number of reports on serious technical problems and mechanical damages encountered by more than one hundred ships due to contaminated fuel oils. The contaminated fuels were initially supplied in the Houston area. Following this, the same contaminated fuels were supplied in some Caribbean ports such as Panama and then (so far) "exported" and supplied to Singapore and Malaysia. The first warning sign for those ships was blockage of fuel filters. Initially, the crew not being aware that the fuel was contaminated, tried to find the cause of the problems but, despite their efforts, they experienced more and more problems.

Maritime Blockchain Labs (MBL) announced late last week that it has launched a new consortium to explore how blockchain could help shipping operators better trace the source and quality of bunker fuels, including details on its environmental impacts. The group will explore how blockchain technologies could help to provide an "efficient, tamper-resistant and auditable chain of custody" for bunker fuels, providing assurances that can help operators meet tightening global regulations governing carbon emission reporting and air pollution. The consortium includes Lloyd's Register, Precious Shipping, Bostomar, BIMCO, International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA), and shipping biofuels specialist GoodFuels.

Friday, 17 August 2018 14:19

Maersk and IBM launch blockchain platform

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After launching a proof of concept earlier this year, IBM and Maersk have unveiled TradeLens, the production version of an electronic ledger for tracking global shipments. There are 94 participants piloting the system, including more than 20 port and terminal operators, such as the Halifax Port Authority. The goal is to develop a highly secure system that promotes the sharing of information across the global shipping industry that can reduce costs, improve productivity, increase the speed of the delivery of goods and provide transparency. When information is entered or scanned in manually, TradeLens can track critical data about every shipment in a supply chain, and it offers an immutable record among all parties involved. Customs authorities in the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Australia and Peru are also participating recognizing that a blockchain ledger provide a higher-degree of certainty of what is in a container.

Friday, 17 August 2018 14:16

Remote ship surveys a possibility

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Klaveness Ship Management (KSM) has completed the first ever approved remote initial MPMS survey on its caustic bulk vessel MV Ballard in June 2018. The survey preparation and execution was done in close collaboration with DNV GL. The traditional engine room inspection was replaced with a video recorded by the use of GoPro camera, which was shared with the surveyor in advance of the survey. The survey was conducted with the surveyor located in Oslo, sharing screen and communicating with the Chief Engineer, who was onboard in Bahrain. The Chief Engineer presented the PMS, the onboard maintenance routines, and answered all questions to the satisfaction of the surveyor. If parts of, or entire, surveys can be completed while the vessel is at sea, this will ultimately reduce workload and fatigue for the crew, allowing them to focus more of their attention on safe cargo and port operations. Klaveness will continue to work with DNVGL to find other survey elements that can be carried out remotely.

Friday, 10 August 2018 11:10

Wilhelmsen dabbling with drone deliveries

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Launching at Singapore port’s Marina South Pier in Q3 2018, Wilhelmsen Ships Service and Airbus will be piloting the delivery of spare parts, documents, water test kits and 3D printed consumables via Airbus’ Skyways unmanned air system (UAS) to vessels at anchorage. With the signing of an MOU at maritime trade show Posidonia, the Maritime UAS project agreement covers a joint ambition to establish a framework for cooperation between the Parties, with the aim of investigating the potential deployment and commercialization of UAS for maritime deliveries use cases.

Friday, 10 August 2018 10:38

Scrubbers gaining attention

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With just seventeen months to go before the sulphur global cap is put into effect on January 1, 2020, companies are running out of time to determine how they plan to comply.  Two compliance options are available to ship owners - install scrubbers to continue using high sulphur marine fuels or pay more for middle distillate fuels like marine gasoil (MGO) and diesel that complies with the new regulation. The IMO anticipates that 3,800 of the worldwide fleet of 60,000 vessels will opt for scrubbers that will range from roughly $1.1 to $5.7 million USD and usually takes between 10-20 days to complete. Some of the drivers for choosing scubbers include availability, uniform ISO8217 quality, and operational stability.  The Refinery Automation Institute has made available a scrubber Return on Investment (ROI) calculator to help shipowners decide the best 2020 compliance option. This will need to be weighed carefully against the middle distillate capacity additions and availability of low sulphur crude blends over the next seventeen months. The ‘wait-and-see’ approach of some ship owners may turn into a stampede for scrubbers if IMO 2020 compliant fuels cannot be sufficiently supplied.

Friday, 10 August 2018 10:31

China seeks input on LNG bunkering

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China's Ministry of Transport is soliciting feedback from oil companies, shipowners' and port associations, and marine authorities for a plan to use liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a marine bunker fuel. The Ministry has asked companies and agencies to give feedback by Aug. 20, but gave no further details on the LNG bunkering plan, other than will expediting the planning and siting of key berths for LNG tankers in the Bohai Bay area of northern China, as well as along its main rivers. China has so far tested using LNG as a bunker fuel only on about a dozen vessels running along the Yangtze River.  China has 19 completed LNG bunkering stations, but only three are currently operational.

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Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty recently released its annual report, Safety & Shipping Review 2018.  The report highlights cyber, climate risks and human error as the main factors threatening shipping’s safety progress during the 12 months prior to December 31, 2017.  Large shipping losses have declined 38% over the past decade with this downward trend continuing in 2017. Recent events such as the collision of the oil tanker “Sanchi” and the impact of the NotPetya malware on harbor logistics underscore both the traditional and emerging risk challenges faced by the shipping sector.

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MOL in cooperation with MES-S, the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology and Akishima Laboratories announced that on July 25, their joint demonstration project regarding the safety of vessels' auto berthing and un-berthing was selected for Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism (MLIT)'s fiscal year 2018 autonomous vessel demonstration project. Berthing and un-berthing are some of the most difficult phases of ship operation, in which autonomous operations would be of great benefit. This auto berthing and un-berthing demonstration project will identify technical issues by demonstrating autonomous operation with a real vessel and study ways to achieve practical use. In this fiscal year, the demonstration test will be conducted by using the training ship of TUMST "Shioji Maru", and starting next fiscal year, members are planning a test using a large-size ship in a domestic ferry service. 

Friday, 03 August 2018 11:49

China to include LNG in tariffs

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Earlier today China listed 5,207 US products that it would target in an effort to "safeguard its own legitimate interests" should the Trump administration follow through with its $200 billion tax on Chinese goods.  This time the list includes both US liquefied natural gas (LNG) and crude oil exports. It’s the first time that LNG has been ensnared by the expanding trade war and comes as Russia plans to begin pumping gas to China through its newly-built 2,500-mi Power of Siberia pipeline by the end of 2019. China is the world’s biggest crude oil importer and emerged as the world’s biggest importer of natural gas, topping Japan, as it aggressively moves to reduce its reliance on smog-inducing coal.  US LNG executives are quaking in their boots as several large-scale LNG export facilities are under construction.  The US is the world’s largest exporter of fuels such as gasoline and diesel, and is poised to become one of the largest exporters of LNG by 2019. US LNG exports were worth $3.3 billion in 2017 and there two dozen firms seeking to build new export terminals in the United States.  British Columbia, was in similar boat five years ago and today we are still waiting for our first LNG export facility to begin construction.

Friday, 27 July 2018 10:56

Scrubbers pick up steam

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A survey of Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems Association (EGCSA) members has revealed that scrubber uptake is rapidly accelerating with the number of ships with exhaust gas cleaning systems installed or on order standing at 983 as of 31 May 2018. This follows a slew of recent reports that major ship operators, including Spliethoff, Frontline, DHT and Star Bulk have opted for scrubbers. One of the ‘big’ container companies has confirmed it will use scrubbing as part of its 2020 compliance portfolio and there are rumours that others will do likewise. EGCSA believes that although there has been a surge in demand, yard capacity is not an issue going forward, however other constraints such as the availability of laser scanning specialists and experienced installation teams mean that it may not be possible to pick and choose an installation slot nor coincide a scrubber installation with an already scheduled drydock in the near future.

Friday, 27 July 2018 10:20

COSCO Shipping cyber-attacked

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Cosco Shipping offices were hit by a cyber-attack earlier this week that has affected its email and telephone networks in North America.  The container line was able to isolate the incident and minimize the disruption. The suspected ransomware attack is believed to have started at COSCO Shipping’s Pier J terminal at the Port of Long Beach. Once COSCO detected the attack, it shut down connections to its global networks as a precaution as it investigated the incident. 

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The Wilhelmsen group is abandoning its planned acquisition of Drew Marine Group following a July 21 decision by the US District Court for the District of Columbia to grant the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) motion for an injunction to block the acquisition.  The Federal Trade Commission had charged that Wilhelmsen Maritime Services' $400 million acquisition would violate the antitrust laws by significantly reducing competition in an important market for marine water treatment chemicals and services used by global fleets and that customers for these products, owners and operators of global fleets of these vessels, will be harmed by the proposed acquisition.

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