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Renewables sector the ‘big opportunity’ for offshore vessel owners

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The renewables sector is set to be the big opportunity for offshore marine, but vessel owners will need to adapt to a new business model, according to a panel discussing energy transition at Seatrade Maritime Middle East Virtual.

Mark Williams, Managing Director of Shipping Strategy, said, “The demand for drilled offshore oil and gas will fall, but the demand for offshore wind, solar, and hydrogen production is in its infancy, and that will grow significantly over the next 30 years, and that is the big opportunity.”

Other panellists on the “How should the offshore and maritime industries prepare for the global energy transition?” Seatrade Maritime Club session agreed.

Martin Helweg, Chief Executive Officer of P&O Maritime Logistics, said: “We’ll see  very good growth in the renewables sector. which I think is good for our planet, good for society in general but it’s also an opportunity for the offshore sector. Renewables are going to be the big opportunity.”

However, it would also bring with it a very different business model where just owning and chartering a vessel would not be enough.

“I think there will be new players that have a very different upbringing and very different look at logistics supply chain that traditional oil and gas companies. There will be some quite significant changes in the dynamics of how they contract, and how they look at the supply, that as a vessel owner and operator you need to be conscious of and just supplying a vessel will not be enough in the future,” Helweg explained.

Owners would have to look at factors such as how they could optimise their customers supply chain, speed up delivery times and value for the customer.

Whether owners could charge a premium provision of value-added services and improved environmental footprint proved to be point of disagreement on the panel.

Eleanor Midwinter, Specialist Counsel for Wikborg Rein, said: “There’s likely to be two tiers in the maritime industry moving forwards. I do think there is absolutely scope to sell a service that is ecologically sound and think there is going to be much pressure not just on your immediate customer relationship but the end customer relationship and we see that’s how the regulatory landscape looks.

“So, I’m not just interested in the emissions from your vessel on this voyage, I’m interested in what is the product and service I’m buying, who did those people invest and how much did that cost the environment.”

However, Helweg and Williams disagreed that premium could be charged.

“There is no premium in the shipping markets, shipowners are price takers at all points in the cycle,” Williams stated.

Helweg believes it will become the “entry ticket to the party”.

“You will have customers saying you will need to have a solution in place or you can’t do business. Historically the shipping industry has been notoriously bad at changing innovations into premiums. It becomes the new bar we need to fufilll, I for one think it’s a good thing as we need it for our planet and as good corporate citizens,” Helweg said.

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