Which vessels should I invest in? When shipowners call Georgios Plevrakis to discuss decarbonisation, this is the most common question that he encounters.

Plevrakis is the director of global sustainability at the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS). He’s based in Athens and is supported by an extensive international network of scientists, researchers and academics, which makes him an attractive source of insight about the topic at hand.

The significance of the investment question, Plevrakis explains, is the implied understanding that environmental regulations aimed at reducing shipping’s collective carbon footprint may affect cargo choices, trade lanes and demand for certain vessel sizes.

“As owners confront the emerging technical, environmental and regulatory challenges associated with increasingly stringent regional directives and the IMO’s greenhouse gas emission targets for 2030 and beyond, many are starting to question the long-term viability of traditional business models,” he said.

Georgios Plevrakis

Georgios Plevrakis, the global director of sustainability at ABS, is hosting a webinar entitled Pathways to Low Carbon Shipping: Strategies for shipowners on 23 June 2020. In addition to Plevrakis, the line-up includes:

  • Stavros Hatzigrigoris, Managing Director, Maran Gas Maritime
  • Panos Kourkountis, Technical Director, Sea Traders
  • Lambros Kaiktsis, Professor and Vice Dean at the School of Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering, National Technical University of Athens

Prior to ABS, Plevrakis managed business development for RINA and served as the head of powerplants and turbomachinery at MAN Diesel. The father of two describes himself as a “mechanical engineer at heart”, which isn’t surprising given his MSc. Eng. from National Technical University of Athens, which was followed by an MBA from Athens University of Economics & Business.

While more and more owners are contemplating decarbonisation as they envisage future fleets, Plevrakis fears few are prepared for the challenges that lay ahead. Given the pace of change that’s needed to achieve the IMO’s ambitious climate goals, this may prove problematic for the industry at large.

“The rate of shipping’s transition to lower carbon fuels will have the single biggest impact on its global carbon footprint—more than any predictable shifts in commodity demand, enhancements to operating practices, vessel routings or ship designs,” Plevrakis said.

Reality check

A recent survey of shipowners and operators who registered for the Pathways to Sustainable Shipping webinar hosted by ABS revealed that nearly two-thirds had no decarbonisation strategy in place.

On the topic of alternative fuels, ammonia and hydrogen topped the list of options with the greatest long-term potential. In the short short-term, roughly 70% of respondents agreed that LNG will continue to play a pivotal role in shipping’s path to a low-carbon future.

“It is clear that the industry views both hydrogen and ammonia as the long-term destination but sees LNG as having a big role to play in addressing the regulatory challenge immediately in front of us,” Plevrakis said in response to the survey and its findings.

Maran Gas & Sea Traders at the fore as ABS charts paths forward

Plevrakis is poised to discuss fuel pathways at length during a webinar on 23 June 2020. Pathways to Low-Carbon Shipping: Strategies for shipowners, which is presented by ABS in collaboration with TradeWinds, will feature a virtual roundtable with Angelicoussis Shipping Group affiliate Maran Gas Maritime and Greek compatriot Sea Traders, among others.

Registration is free, but space is limited to the first 500 delegates. To learn more about the webinar or to register, check this out.

All eyes on the IMO

As TradeWinds has reported, the IMO has heeded calls from environmentalist groups to hold a virtual meeting to discuss decarbonisation regulations next month amid fears that the continued postponement of face-to-face meetings would delay the regulatory process.

If short-term decarbonisation measures are to come into force by 2023 as planned, member states must finalise the rules this year.

Under the IMO’s formal regulatory procedure, states would approve the rules at the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) sessions after ironing out their details at intersessional working groups.

But the intersessional working group and the 75th MEPC session scheduled in March and April did not take place and the IMO has yet to reschedule them due to ongoing concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

While a number of prominent owners have already adopted decarbonisation strategies, many others are hesitant to follow suit until the organisation provides greater clarity and tentative rules are agreed upon.