Jotun Insider - Erna Solberg United Nations Congress
Jotun Insider - Erna Solberg United Nations Congress

Investment in innovation and collaboration key to responsible growth

High profile speakers and shipping executives at Nor-Shipping stress importance of innovation and collaboration amid changing landscape and tightening environmental regulations.

The biennial Nor-Shipping event, held in Oslo, showcased the domestic and international maritime sector as it gradually rides out of the industry downturn. The event was organized around the theme of “Challenges and Opportunities” in the maritime and ocean industries, and covered subjects as varied as innovation, collaboration, decarbonisation and digitalization, amongst other key issues.

As reported by Nor-Shipping daily, Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg delivered the first address, emphasizing “environmental regulations will only get tougher” and encouraged companies to take action. “Norway has a well established maritime cluster and is in a strong position to take advantage of its technological expertise as the industry faces stricter environmental regulations.”

Solberg’s message centred on Norway’s updated ocean strategy, which focuses on skills, value creation along the Norwegian coast and green shipping, plus climate change. “Our experience is investments in green shipping pay off, and are good for both the environment and the economy. We will continue to promote our low-and zero-emissions policy in all shipping segments.”

Major change ahead

Grieg Star chairperson Elisabeth Grieg believes the industry is set to see huge change in the years ahead. “I think the next 10 years is going to be a tipping point for the planet and for the shipping industry. Shipowners will have to think differently and create new solutions, new innovations, new collaborations,” said Grieg at the TradeWinds Shipowners’ Forum.

Echoing Grieg, Jan Dielman, president of Cargill Ocean Transportation said, “Shipping is set for a major shift. We will see more change in the industry over the next 10 years, more than we have seen in the past 100 years. Stakeholder relationships are changing. I think going forward we will see more collaboration and a stronger focus on asset optimisation.”

Respected broker Peter Anker believes the forthcoming International Maritime Organisation (IMO) fuel rules regulation offers the chance of acceptable returns for investors. “I think with IMO Sulphur Cap 2020, shipping is finally investable again since the new rules are likely to lead to basically zero supply growth in the coming years.”

Collaborative innovation

Collaborative innovation was a recurring theme throughout Nor-Shipping. An increasing number of companies are using green and digital solutions to meet the new regulations and improve operating efficiencies.

As an example, six companies in the Nordic countries have launched a joint project to share their maritime expertise in working towards low- or even zero-emission shipping. Initiated by Finnish ship technology provider Wartsila, the consortium of Zero-Emission Energy Distribution at Sea (ZEEDS) also includes ro-ro operator DFDS, bulker player Grieg Star, energy conglomerate Equinor, engineering firm Aker Solutions and engineering, procurement and construction specialist Kvaerner.

Industry majors DNV GL and Kongsberg also signed a memorandum of understanding with the ambition to help bring about digitalization of the maritime industry. “Many have pointed towards digital transformation as the solution to the many challenges in the maritime industry. Still, insecurities about the market, access to quality data and difficulties in manoeuvring among the many solution providers seems to put on hold investments,” said Vigleik Takle, senior vice president at Kongsberg Digital

“With this in mind, we think shipowners and operators would benefit from data infrastructure standardization and access to business ecosystems connecting all relevant digital solutions or services. And that is why Kongsberg is joining forces with DNV GL. We believe we can offer shipping companies digital solutions which will optimise performance and allow them to have more secure and sustainable operations,” added Takle.

Greater transparency

Morten Fon, chief executive officer of Jotun, also believes the spirit of increased collaboration will be key to the future, both for maritime and the broader ocean space. Talking with the Nor-Shipping organisers, Fon said “Access to data will allow us to provide better solutions, while sharing data across relevant platforms will help the industry in general push for optimised performance, efficiency and regulatory compliance. Greater transparency will help give us all the ability to navigate what, in the past, has been an unpredictable industry. That’s crucial.”

In connection with Nor-Shipping Jotun signed a memorandum of understanding with the world’s biggest shipyard, Korean Hyundai Heavy Industries, which represents the starting point of a closer cooperation and the use of Jotun’s new, innovative marine paint that reduces solvent emissions by up to 90 per cent. “We are, of course, very pleased with the agreement with Hyundai Heavy Industries, but even more satisfied that our innovation is contributing to a better environment,” said Morten Fon.

The impact of the new regulations, technologies and ways of working were also in focus at many of the seminars, panel debates and knowledge sharing events, notably the Blue Talks session on biofouling.

Panellists agreed that the prevention of fouling remains critical to sustainable operations and possible biofouling regulation by the IMO may well force operators to change their approach to address the pressing global issue.

Call for regulations and financial incentives

“Antifouling coatings, cleaning technology and performance monitoring can all help to prevent fouling but there’s also a need for regulations and financial incentives to encourage more investment by operators,” opined Stein Kjølberg, global concept director at Jotun Hull Performance Solutions.

Co-panellist, Aron Frank Sørensen, head of maritime technology and regulation, BIMCO, also believes new regulations could help to encourage operators to invest in sustainable practices more actively. “We are in favour of regulations. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the IMO-led GloFouling project. The industry needs IMO’s global approach.

“Biofouling is a big headache for the industry and that is why BIMCO has developed an in-water cleaning standard, in collaboration with the paint manufacturers, cleaning companies and owners. We strongly believe in more cooperation because the industry would gain from it,” added Sørensen

Read our article about the Blue Talks session on biofouling here

Speaking to Jotun Maritime Insider, Dr Erik Risberg, global marketing director, Jotun Marine Coatings, offered his thoughts on Nor-Shipping and the status of the industry. “Nor-Shipping is one of the most important events in our calendar. With so many visitors showing up, it’s our opportunity to showcase our products and services. At the same time, it’s important to have a broader profile presence – and not just promote products - to show how Jotun is aligning itself to help serve its customers in the changing environment in the maritime industry.”

He added, “It’s hard to predict the future but it seems as if business confidence is slowly returning to some sectors, and more players are becoming optimistic. That said, the new regulations, technologies and business models will no doubt impact the industry in a big way so it’s important to innovate and collaborate to meet the challenges – and opportunities – ahead.”

Expert panel at Wallenius Wilhelmsen sustainable shipping partner event in Oslo

Setting the course for greener shipping

Norway is well-positioned to lead efforts for the transition to low-carbon shipping, but government and shipping executives stress more collaboration, technology and innovation is needed to achieve global emission reduction goals.

Ocean Pod: Can marine coatings offer ecological and economical benefits?

Shipowners and operators want their vessels to operate faster, cheaper and greener to meet rising competition and new environmental regulations.

Expert panel at Nor-Shipping 2019

How can industry meet the biofouling challenge?

Experts at Nor-Shipping agree there is no quick fix to solving the biofouling issue. Antifouling coatings, cleaning technology and performance monitoring can all help to prevent fouling but there’s also a need for regulations and financial incentives to encourage more investment by operators.