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IMCA news: ‘transport work’ proxies unsuitable for DP vessels

Mon 30 Apr 2018 by Ed Martin

IMCA news: ‘transport work’ proxies unsuitable for DP vessels
Eleni Antoniadou, IMCA policy and regulatory affairs advisor

There are few bigger issues currently affecting the shipping industry than the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. IMO's strategy on this issue is being driven by its Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), whose role includes conducting a data collection exercise on fuel oil consumption by ships.

Ships of 5,000 gt and above will be required to collect consumption data for each type of fuel oil they use, as well as additional specified data, including proxies for 'transport work'. This will follow a three-step approach of:

  1. collection of data from 1 January 2019;
  2. analysis of the data in autumn 2020; followed by
  3. decision-making on what further measures, if any, are required in spring 2022.

IMCA holds consultative status at IMO. This enables IMCA and other non-governmental organisations with specialist knowledge to offer information and expert advice to IMO and to express their members’ points of view.

IMCA has played an active role in IMO’s work since 1999. In collaboration with the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP), it has been supporting MEPC’s work by collecting and analysing data from a sample of 66 dynamic positioning (DP) vessels operated by its board member companies in 2017. Data was collected according to IMO parameters of fuel oil consumption, hours underway and distance travelled.

This initiative helped to explain in a factual and realistic way the particular power needs and fuel consumption cycles of DP ships, in comparison with the traditional shipping sector (e.g. containers, oil tankers and bulk carriers).

The joint IMCA-IOGP industry paper informed IMO delegates at MEPC's 72nd session, held from 9 to 13 April 2018, that DP ships are designed to use their full power capability, and hence maximum fuel consumption, in order to remain stationary in an offshore location for safe construction operations. This differs to traditional shipping vessels, which are designed for speed and economic steaming.

The research showed that the DP ship market remains niche, with a very different operating mode to the traditional shipping market. For example, the average speed of DP ships is only 1.5 knots, compared with 15-18 knots for traditional shipping vessels. As a result, fuel consumption metrics cannot be effectively comparable.

Consequently, it was suggested that the application of 'transport work' proxies should not be extended to DP ships, since such vessels are not transporting cargo, thus the concept of 'transport work' is not appropriate. Furthermore, developing such metrics for such a small and specialised market would attract a heavy administrative burden for both the industry and IMO, for little incremental benefit.

The IMCA-IOGP paper proposed that the 'transport work' proxy approach should not be applied to this small and specialised sector of the industry at the second stage of data analysis. Such efficiency indicators must be appropriate; otherwise misleading data would be collected, leading to misinformation for policy makers at the third step of the process.

Many IMO Member States supported the paper and were of the view that a uniform approach should be developed to address ship types for which 'transport work' proxies are not currently available and appropriate.

IMCA is hopeful that this work will be useful to IMO to assess future fuel efficiency metrics and looks forward to continuing discussions in an effective and cooperative manner at the next MEPC meeting in October 2018. 

Details of the paper can be found on IMCA’s website www.imca-int.com

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