Under public pressure

Ines Nastali, senior custom publishing editor

A new year always brings the chance to start something new, and for the maritime industry, the year 2020 brings the IMO’s low-sulphur regulation into force. The new rule will have considerable benefits for the environment.

Much has been reported about different emission treatment methods as well as fuel choices and infrastructure, but only time will tell which options prevail and if concerns about fuel availability were only scaremongering.

Dredgers have been using marine gas oil (MGO), with a maximum sulphur content of 1.5% for a number of years and 0.5% very-low-sulphur options are also available for a higher price. All in all, our sector seems to be better prepared than the merchant shipping sector.

That said, we have shown ourselves to always be open to innovation, and most recently have been exploring new ways of propulsion. We have already seen the use of liquified natural gas (LNG) in recently ordered vessels, as well as in conversions to hybrid propulsion. In fact, the latest results of the monthly DPC survey showed 64% of respondents answering yes to the question “Will LNG overtake MGO as a fuel for dredgers?”

The move towards using this gas fuel is twofold: first, the incoming IMO regulations make LNG attractive from a sulphur emissions viewpoint, and second, the predictable refuelling pattern for dredgers makes them a good candidate for LNG use.In fact, we are likely to see extended LNG use by those merchant ships that pre-plan routes and are technically suitable candidates for a conversion.

While 2030 may see the industry as a whole move to lower carbon fuels in an effort to reach the designated IMO 2050 targets, the dredging industry is sure to be at the forefront of carbon reduction innovation, particularly given its public scrutiny. A respondent said, “Most dredgers work for an extended time in one area, so pollution is confined to that area and the immediate effect is much larger than with other vessels.”

With public pressure on the maritime industry increasing amid climate change demonstrations, the shipping world must show its willingness to reduce emissions, and accept that this will come at a cost to a company’s budget, not human health.