Shipbuilding Segment of Maritime Industry Receiving Boost Courtesy of IMO Environmental Regulations

Shipbuilding Segment of Maritime Industry Receiving Boost Courtesy of IMO Environmental Regulations

Shipbuilding is big business—literally. Ocean-going cargo ships have never been small vessels, but in today’s maritime industry it is safe to say those things are enormous. Some of the largest ships in the world are about 1,300 feet long and 180 feet wide. Without getting into any numbers, it is probably safe to say that ships cost the companies that order them a pretty penny. That is, of course, great for shipbuilders.

But there is just one problem. After a company orders one, unless they decide to expand their fleet, they don’t need another one for 25-30 years. In the interim, what’s a shipbuilder to do?


They find other clients of course, but that can’t always be easy. It’s not like there are new players jumping into the maritime industry and looking for ships every month.

However, thanks to the IMO, International Maritime Organization, business should start picking up for shipbuilders.

In an effort to help make the world a better place to live, the IMO has decided it is time to adopt stricter rules and regulations pertaining to environmental concerns. They want to lessen the impact that the shipping industry has on the planet.

On April 13, the IMO announced a new environmental strategy. In it, the industry would “reduce the emissions from international shipping and phase out old inefficient ships.”

Phasing out ships means one thing—new ones will be needed to replace them.

But these ships will not be just any old ships. No, these will get constructed in accordance with the new environmental regulations and goals in mind.

  • By 2050, the IMO wants to reduce the total annual amount of emissions by at least 50 percent from what they were in 2008.
  • CO2 emissions will be reduced by at least 40 percent by 2030 and 70 percent by 2050 (from what they were in 2008)

These goals are in addition to the IMO’s 2020 Global Sulphur Limit. Decided back in 2016, the Limit put a cap on the sulfur content of fuel oil. By October 1, 2020, it would need to be down from the current level of 3.5 percent to .5 percent.

Shipbuilders will essentially be making eco-ships now.

“Given that it takes an average of 1.5 to two years to build a ship, it is possible to say all ships in the design and building process at Korean dockyards are eco-ships,” one shipbuilding official said.

Business has already started to pick up; at least for some Korean shipbuilders. Last December, Samsung Heavy Industries took an order for six LNG-powered vessels. Hyundai Heavy Industries received an order for seven.

In February 2017, Hyundai Heavy Industries made a deal with KSS Line. Rather than build new ships now, KSS Line wanted their existing medium-sized LNG carriers retrofitted with an exhaust gas cleaning system. Many shipping companies will end up trying to retrofit their existing vessels when possible to make them compliant.

“By necessity, ship owners are stringently economic, so they will likely make the most effective choices — placing scrubbers for relatively new vessels while replacing 15- to 20 -year-old ships with LNG-powered or dual fuel engine vessels using LNG,” the official said.

HHI estimates that it will install upwards of 15,000 ships with the same exhaust gas cleaning system by 2020.

So, whether it is through retrofitting existing ships or building new, the IMO’s new regulations are creating work. Not only that but they are saving the planet as well. It is safe to say that the work towards a more eco-friendly worldwide maritime fleet has begun.  As technology improves, it will only get better.

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