Polish Steamship Co (Polsteam) boss Pawel Brzezicki says it is close to reaching an agreement to take over management of the Morska Stocznia Remontowa Gryfia Shipyard in Szczecin to target growing demand for retrofitting exhaust-gas cleaning systems.

In addition to the five docks MSR Gryfia has in Szczecin, once one of Europe’s largest shipbuilding sites, another two or three docks are situated at a sister facility in Swinoujscie.

Brzezicki tells TradeWinds talks are 90% complete. “We are very close,” he says.

The yard's management is overseen by the same government ministry that owns Polsteam, Poland’s largest shipping company.

Brzezicki says Polsteam has a very good technical department and good engineers it could allocate to the new venture.

A 'win-win situation'

“It is a win-win situation for the shipowner and the shipyard,” he claims.

Brzezicki says the repair facilities could be used to install scrubbers on Polsteam vessels, as well as competing for similar contracts from other owners.

He sees huge potential for the shiprepair industry going forward, not only for installing scrubbers but also for vessels adapting to using other fuels, such as LNG.

However, Brzezicki admits that the potential size of the scrubber market remains unclear.

Although owners are keen to talk about the feasibility of retrofitting, no one really knows what fuel prices will be from 2020 when the IMO sulphur cap is implemented, he explains.

“What is the arithmetic behind owners’ making decisions?” he asks.

Also, regional administrations will play a major role in deciding how widespread the use of scrubbers is.

Growing sector

But overall, Brzezicki sees shiprepair demand growing. “I need a yard in our portfolio,” he says.

The MSR Gryfia yard has previously handled maintenance of Polsteam vessels and is building a new ropax ferry for Polferries in a government-backed move aimed at revitalising shipbuilding in the country.

Brzezicki confirms that Polsteam is also still looking to order new ferries for the ageing fleet of subsidiary Unity Line.

There has been talk of constructing four LNG-fuelled hybrid vessels, which also use batteries, and Brzezicki says he will sound out yards during his February trip to China.

An order could be split between China and Poland, although the Polsteam boss indicates that Vietnam is also a possibility.

Vard’s yard in Vietnam is scheduled to deliver in April a 5,600-gt expedition cruiseship for Coral Expeditions.