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GL - raising the game on fuel efficiency

GL - raising the game on fuel efficiency

Oslo: As environmental competition between class societies intensifies, Germanischer Lloyd is examining a range of fundamentally new ship designs, aimed at improving fuel consumption and cutting emissions. The new designs include a dual-fuel container feeder vessel capable of running on LNG as well as heavy fuel; an Aframax tanker which could save almost 5% in transport costs; and a "baby post-panamax" container vessel which could cut shipping costs by as much as 15% on each loaded container.

Dr Hermann Klein (pictured), a member of GL's Executive Board, concedes that significant savings can be achieved from "operational and low-level technical changes" but, he says, the greatest savings can be made following a complete engineering optimisation exercise. This is aimed at new vessels but can be used to improve fuel economy on certain types of existing vessels.

A bulbous bow, for example, which could have been designed originally for a container ship operating at 25 knots, would not perform well at a more likely service speed today of 18 knots. It might make good sense, therefore, to replace it, Dr Klein suggests. A newly configured bow could be built prior to a routine docking and fitted well within the duration of the survey. Such a move that could pay back in less than six months, a timeframe that is getting shorter by the day as bunker prices head for the $400 level once again.

Much depends on an owner's view of likely future bunker costs, Dr Klein points out. The class society is convinced that ships' fuel will continue to rise in price and, based on a range of assumptions, projects that it could rise to almost $2000 a tonne by 2036. A new container ship delivering in 2011 would likely still be in service at that time and maximising fuel efficiency today is therefore vital.  [11/06/09]