Decarbonising marine offshore vessels
08 Sep 2023
Marco Gilissen - Global Director Offshore Geo-data Acquisition
We have set an ambitious 2035 decarbonisation target to demonstrate our commitment to environmental stewardship, including for our own survey vessels. We are developing and engineering the transition of the vessels we own to methanol and other low-carbon fuel sources.
Concurrently, chartered third-party vessels make up an important part of our fleet, so their greenhouse gas emissions are also a key focus area. These third-party vessels also need to transition to greener fuels and lower emissions to ensure a successful decarbonisation strategy, for Fugro and the whole industry.
Across the offshore industry, a coordinated effort between vessel owners and users is required in the coming years to bring about a range of incremental and disruptive solutions to reduce vessel carbon emissions. Offshore vessel owners need to plan for and act on tangible emission-reducing measures, including a range of operational efficiency solutions, installing hybrid battery packs, methanol-powered engines and other emerging technologies for the marine sector.
Due to the long asset lifetimes of vessels being over 20 years, decarbonisation efforts need to accelerate now and in the upcoming years to achieve emission-free operations leading up to 2040. Collaboration and trust-based, long-term relations between vessel users and vessel owners is a key enabler of structural changes towards emission-free marine operations across the world.
A market fraught with uncertainty
The offshore vessel market is currently under pressure due to very strong post-Covid demand across offshore energy industries. This buoyant vessel market, in combination with a series of other macro and micro economic factors, is having a negative impact on the industry’s short-term ability and willingness to decarbonise vessels on a national, regional or global scale. As an example, the short-term limited availability of ready-made solutions for the maritime sector represent a barrier to decarbonisation of today’s vessel fleet.
Along with this, the fuel suppliers to the vessel owners (typically via maritime ports and infrastructure) also face uncertainty around a variety of fuel types (e.g., methanol, hydrogen, electricity, traditional marine diesels, ammonia etc.) and which of these to build a supply chain around. It is simply not realistic in a congested port space and in most cases close proximity to or in major cities and towns, to cover all fuel source types and levels of demand.
Fugro and other vessel owners must continue looking into effective engagement mechanisms to ensure that there is supply-side and demand-side commitment to vessel decarbonisation programmes. In practice this means a stronger market outlook to reflect investments into new technologies in vessel market rates. These technologies include solutions such as installing battery-hybrid systems or conversions to green fuels like green methanol. Industry consortia and projects, such as the Fugro-led consortium MENENS (Methanol as Energy Step Towards Emission-Free Dutch Shipping), represent tangible platforms for developing and sharing expertise between companies and accelerate decarbonisation readiness irrespective of market players’ size.
Transparent and ambitious target setting
Setting ambitious decarbonisation targets and transparently reporting on progress will drive long-term objectives into practical, measurable carbon reduction steps in the coming years. The net zero targets and deadline set by clients and governments around the world are fast approaching and non-negotiable. Yet ultimately, if nobody leads the way on our industry’s decarbonisation journey, market forces will determine the speed and direction of travel. The industry needs to come together and come up with the solutions that allow owners to offer long-term charters that incorporate a timebound vessel decarbonisation strategy. We need to act now, because the closer we get to the end of the decade, the more difficult and costly it will become to achieve our net zero objectives. It’s time to take action.
We’re doing our bit
We have already committed to setting science-based targets. If more vessel owners take a similar, transparent approach, the offshore vessel industry can demonstrate to its clients and other stakeholders that it is committed to meet emission reduction targets in line with what the latest climate science says is necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C– 2°C.
Our journey has commenced with our short-term vessel emission targets well within sight and on schedule for both our own fleet and with close collaboration, the vessels we charter.