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Industry needs re-educating on environmentally acceptable lubricants

Larry Beaver, Vice President R&D, RSC Bio Solutions, talks about the challenges of getting shipowners to invest in eco-based lubricants.

Seatrade Maritime News: There has been a lot of discussion about the industry moving towards a greener future. Do you sense that to be true when talking to customers?

Larry Beaver: Yes, the industry is moving more and more towards more sustainable solutions, both of course with respect to the fuels, but also with lubricants. Now it's no longer just enough to be biodegradable, or low toxicity. Now sustainability is playing a greater role in the decision making processes on what lubricants are being used on board ships.

Seatrade Maritime News: What would you say is most important in the move towards sustainability?

Larry Beaver:  What's driving it is, in some cases, regulation; in some cases, corporate goals to improve sustainability to create, in essence, biobased ships, greener ships.

Seatrade Maritime News: Would you say it’s regulation or pressure from customers that is pIaying the bigger role in this shift?

Larry Beaver: I think initially, most everyone adopted because it was being mandated by things such as the vessel general permit here in the United States, but that has changed. The tide has turned if you will, and people are doing more sustainable projects for their vessels not only to be compliant, but to be forward thinking and proactive, and, of course, the largest shipping companies, and you only have to look in the major trade publications to see that the larger companies with the more more well thought out goals for sustainability are the ones that are leading the pack.

Seatrade Maritime News: When you have such an attractive product for shipowners that want to clean up their act, why are you finding it so difficult to persuade them to switch to eco-lubricant?

Larry Beaver: The single thing is simply the fact that the older, less effective, less stable technology has been out on the marketplace for longer, and they have essentially damaged the reputation of EALs. And we're spending a substantial amount of our time re-educating the end user and the ship's engineers as to exactly how stable our technology can be compared to other EALs in the marketplace. So there, we're having to create a paradigm shift in the minds of the end users away from the older, less stable technology towards the newer, more sustainable, more stable technology.

Seatrade Maritime News: Do you think the industry is doing enough to deliver on its goals to reduce CO2 emissions?

Larry Beaver: I think we really don't have any choice. I think we'll get there. It may not happen as quickly as we would like. But I think there are real incentives out there, capital incentives, as well as, as sustainability goals being set by the major players. I think we'll get there. I think it won't be without a struggle from a technology standpoint. But I think the heart of the industry is to do the right thing and go the right direction is great.