Charting the course to a greener future

When Sturla Henriksen, head of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association, looks into his crystal ball for his industry’s future, he sees green. It’s not just the bottle green of the world’s oceans, however, but the green of a maritime industry that is making shipping the most environmentally friendly transport option possible.

“The environment, on a broad front, will be the leading concept in everything we do in the future,” Henriksen told a September 2008 conference in Trondheim on the future of the Norwegian shipping industry. “We believe this will also give Norwegian shipping a competitive economic advantage.”

Norway’s shipping and maritime industry is charting the course for the industry’s future – whether through the industry’s commitment to a zero-emissions policy, or in pioneering technologies such as new and better propulsion systems, or inventing new ways to tackle the challenges posed by deep water or offshore developments.

“If you look back historically, many new technologies were developed here or implemented here in Norway,” says Torger Reve, a professor and holder of the Wilh. Wilhelmsen Chair in Strategy and Industrial Competitiveness at the BI Norwegian School of Management, where he also heads the Center for Maritime Competitiveness. “Many important things have been designed by the Norwegian shipping industry, and it’s very clear that this will continue to take place. Today’s (Norwegian) maritime policy has two main headlines: innovation and environment. If you combine the two you have the future.”

Ruling the Waves from the Top of the World
Norway’s dominance as a maritime nation has grown out of a determined national strategy to build on the country’s seafarer tradition. Norwegians control the world’s fifth-largest shipping fleet, with 1,800 ships and more than 60 mobile offshore rigs. Norwegian shipping companies employ 57,400 seamen from across the globe, while more than 90,000 people work in the maritime industries overall. The world’s second largest offshore maritime industry is based in Norway, along with the world’s largest ship financing banks, and Europe’s largest shipbuilding group.

The Norwegian Government’s latest version of the national maritime strategy “Stø Kurs,” released in October 2007, makes it clear that the future for the country’s maritime and shipping industries must be green.

“The Government’s vision is that Norway will continue to be a world-leading maritime nation. The Norwegian maritime industry will provide the most innovative and environmentally friendly solutions for the future,” said Dag Terje Andersen, the then-Minister of Trade and Industry when the strategy was released. “Environmentally sound growth is a main priority in the strategy.”

The Government committed NOK 252 million in its 2008 budget for research and innovation efforts in the maritime sector, a NOK 100 million increase over the 2007 budget. The new strategy focuses on five main issues: Globalization and national policies; environmentally sustainable maritime industries; maritime competence; maritime research and innovation; and short sea shipping.


“We have the knowledge, we have the culture of being seafarers, so that we’re able to develop solutions, and we have the capital and the investments in shipping lines, and they are quite willing to take (investment) risks,” says Egil Rensvik, Vice President for Strategy and Research Programmes at MARINTEK, the Norwegian Marine Technology Research Institute, and head of MARUT, the cooperative effort between the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association and the Federation of Norwegian Industries.

Rensvik’s description perfectly fits companies such as Eidesvik Offshore ASA, which is working in a cooperative to pioneer the use of fuel cell technology in an ultra-clean ship. The project is being led by DNV and in addition to Eidesvik, includes MTU CFC Solutions GmbH, Vik-Sandvik and Wärtsilä Automation Norway. "This groundbreaking technology represents a milestone for Eidesvik Offshore," says Jan Fredrik Meling, Eidesvik Offshore ASA CEO.

 

The Grieg group has decided to issue
“Green Passports” to all of its ships.
© Grieg Shipping

 

 

Being environmentally friendly involves everything from ship operations right through to the end of a ship’s useful life. The Grieg Group has recognized this need with its decision in 2008 to provide a “Green Passport” to its vessels, which is an inventory of all hazardous materials aboard. The inventory makes for the safest possible operations, but also complies with the International Maritime Organization’s resolution on ship recycling.

High-tech Specialties
One of the prime challenges facing a high-wage country like Norway is finding its niche in a market where labour costs elsewhere can be significantly lower. The industry has responded by investing in specialized vessels that require Norway’s technological expertise, MARUT’s Rensvik says.

“Norwegian shipyards are specializing in offshore vessels, support diving vessels, specialized vessels for operating in deep waters, anchor handling vessels,” he says. “And the Norwegian maritime industry equipment suppliers deliver equipment world wide. They’re not just focusing on Norway – they have a global perspective.”


Siemens, for example, has Norway’s broadest offerings of products for large motor drives and converters, and counts among its customers National Oilwell, one of the world’s largest suppliers of solutions for boring rigs and ship cranes.


Höegh has built its global maritime industry over the last 80 years, with a focus on auto shipping, fleet services and LNG deliveries. Now, the company’s specialized LNG ships are a critical link in carrying natural gas shipments from the Barents Sea to markets in Europe and North America.

Offshore Developments
Companies such as Ulstein Design, with its sleek X-Bow ship design, have revolutionized ships used in the offshore industry. The Island Constructor, an ULSTEIN SX121 design built by the company, received the Offshore Support Journal's prestigious 2008 'Ship of the Year' award in Hamburg in September 2008. The ship is designed to service subsea wells, and is owned by the Island Offshore Group, which provides services to the offshore industry including platform supply, anchor handling and advanced subsea operations. Another of the group’s vessels, the Island Wellserver, a one-of-a-kind ship built by Aker Yards following Rolls-Royce’s UT 767 CD design, was also honoured as a ship of the year by Skipsrevyen magazine. Sevan Marine has also capitalized on the offshore markets, by specializing in building, owning and operating floating units for offshore applications. The company has developed a patented, cylinder shaped floater, and has deployed the Sevan Hummingbird, the first-ever cylindrical and geostationary FPSO in the North Sea, which produced its first oil cargo in October, 2008.

 

 

Sevan Marine’s FPS(floating production, storage and offloading) Sevan Hummingbird has been installed in Venture’s Chestnut Field in the central UK North Sea, and offloaded its first oil cargo in October, 2008.
© Sevan Marine

 

 

Norwegian’s booming technical expertise is also reflected in the growing number of underwater entrepreneurs, with companies such as Cecon ASA, Acergy, Subsea 7, and DeepOcean. The industry employs more than 2,000 workers and has a combined income of more than NOK 10 billion, according to the Norwegian Shipbuilders Association.

While much of the growth has come from the expansion of oil and gas activities on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, the industry’s underwater expertise goes far beyond oil wells and pipelines. Cecon, for example, was given a grant by Innovation Norway in June 2008, to work on an R&D project related to mooring and installation of wind and wave turbines in deep water offshore – a potential new market.

Researching & Designing the Future
Norway’s maritime research efforts are guided in part by MARUT, which coordinates research efforts funded through the Research Council of Norway’s MAROFF programme and from Innovation Norway’s Maritime Development programme. The Norwegian University of Science and Technology and MARINTEK, a part of the SINTEF Group, are two of the country’s leading research institutes, both based in Trondheim. At the Centre for Ships and Ocean Structures, a Research Council of Norway Centre of Excellence based out of NTNU’s Department of Marine Technology, researchers develop critical knowledge about how ships and other structures behave in the ocean. In mid-October, the President of Ireland HE Mary McAleese opened a seminar on "Renewable Ocean Energy" organized by NTNU/CeSOS, Sustainable Energy Ireland and Enova, a Norwegian Government renewable energy programme.

The university also hosts the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre, a 10-year research cooperative between Rolls-Royce Marine, MARINTEK and NTNU that focuses on propeller and propulsor design and seaway performance.

The development of a new Norwegian Maritime Knowledge Hub, unveiled in the summer of 2008, will also help Norway maintain its position as a leading global maritime nation. The first step in this research and education initiative has been industry funding of eight professorships at Norwegian universities, worth NOK 48 million, with the goal to increase this to 20 positions.

Efficiency & New Markets
Common sense suggests that burning less fuel in transporting goods is good for everyone: shipping companies reduce their costs, while the environment wins, too, because burning fuel results in the production of carbon dioxide as well as other air pollutants, such as oxides of nitrogen.

Some companies, such as Odfjell, which has built a business by pioneering the global transportation and storage of chemicals and other specialty bulk liquids, has taken the step of cutting the speeds of some bulk ships to slash emissions and fuel use. The company began a strategic initiative in 2008 to further manage environmental challenges and energy consumption.

 

 

Odfjell Drilling specializes in the North Sea market and was formed in 1973 after Odfjell SE, which serves international markets with chemical and bulk liquid shipping, decided in the late 1960s to develop a new semi-submersible self-propelled drilling platform.
© Odfjell Drilling

 

 

Another approach is to power ships with natural gas, which can cut vessel emissions of nitrogen oxide by 80% and greenhouse gases by 20%. Eidesvik Offshore ASA operates two natural gas vessels on the Norwegian Continental Shelf, and plans to add a third in 2009. Rolls-Royce natural gas-fueled engines now fuel five Fjord1 ferries on the west coast of Norway. LMG Marin in Bergen designed these vessels, which were then built by Aker Yards, headquartered in Oslo and one of the world’s largest shipbuilders.

Det Norske Veritas (DNV) identifies, assesses and offers advice on risk management. Its Maritime branch classifies ships and offers a range of technical and business risk services. Energy management is a key DNV service in helping shipping companies reduce their environmental footprint. “We have identified a fuel saving potential of between five and twenty percent for ships in operation, depending on the present performance of the company,” says Dr. Espen Cramer, Head of DNV Maritime Solution. “It is rare in this business that such a small investment cost can yield such big results.”

Benedicte Gude, communications manager for Wilh. Wilhelmsens ASA, a global shipping, logistics and maritime services company with an annual turnover of roughly USD 2.6 billion, says the group has adopted a number of approaches to build efficiency into every aspect of its operations. One example is the E/S Orcelle, a concept car-carrier vessel. The ship's zero-emission design uses renewable energy sources and fuel cells to power the vessel, and serves as the group's vision for environmentally related work.

"Bunker (fuel) prices have been high in recent years, which makes us look at design, and how can we design for cost and not least fuel efficiency, and how can we optimize machinery, cargo, trade, and the fleet," Gude says. The group also uses advanced weather forecasts and observations to route ships around stormy weather, and optimizes ship time in ports, so that speeds at sea can be reduced, which improves fuel efficiency without affecting delivery times for the customer, she said.

 

 

Wilh. Wilhelmsen Group ships cargo globally – in this case, to Australia’s Sydney Harbour.
© Will. Wilhelmsen


Wilhelmsen Maritime Services, a member of the Wilhelmsens group, has also partnered with Yara International to develop and market the first-ever complete solution to eliminate nitrogen oxide emissions from ships.

“We are doing our utmost to find green solutions and commercialize them,” Gude says. “We want to be a shaper of the global maritime industry....green business is profitable and will continue to grow.”

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