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May 16, 2023

A Norwegian naval officer has been found guilty and received a two-month suspended jail sentence for negligence in the 2018 collision between a warship and an oil tanker. The collision resulted in the sinking of the military vessel and potential costs of up to $1.24 billion to replace the lost frigate. The crash also caused disruptions to Norway’s petroleum production but did not lead to an oil spill. The officer, who was in charge on the bridge of the warship, expressed disappointment with the verdict, believing it unfair to solely hold him responsible. The collision exposed safety deficiencies in the Norwegian Navy, leading to subsequent improvements.

Hugo De Stoop has resigned as the chief executive officer of Belgian tanker owner Euronav, effective immediately. The decision was made through mutual agreement with the majority support of the supervisory board. Lieve Logghe, Euronav’s chief financial officer, will take on the role of interim CEO to ensure continuity in the company’s operations. De Stoop had been with Euronav since 2004, holding various positions before becoming CEO in 2019. He expressed gratitude for his time with the company and emphasized that it is the right moment for Euronav to embark on a new chapter with a new supervisory board and strong shareholder representation.

A consortium of Japanese companies, including NYK Line, IHI Power Systems, Nihon Shipyard, Japan Engine Corporation, and ClassNK, has successfully conducted a land-based test of the world’s first four-stroke ammonia-fueled engine. The test demonstrated stable combustion with an 80% co-firing ratio of ammonia, marking a significant milestone in the development of ammonia propulsion. The engine, which exhibited virtually zero emissions of dinitrogen monoxide and unburnt ammonia, will be installed on a tugboat scheduled for completion in June next year. The consortium plans to further develop ammonia-fueled engines for ocean-going vessels, with an auxiliary engine set for installation on an ammonia-fueled ammonia gas carrier by October 2026.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has released the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Atlantic Shores South Wind Project, comprising the Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Project 1 and Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Project 2. These proposed projects, jointly submitted by Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind—a collaboration between Shell and EDF Renewables—have the potential to generate approximately 2,800 megawatts (MW) of electricity, enough to power nearly one million homes.

The EIS availability follows the commitment of the Biden-Harris administration to expand offshore wind energy capacity. The projects include up to 200 wind turbines and offshore substations, connected to the New Jersey coastline, and cover an area of approximately 102,124 acres. While BOEM is progressing with the environmental review process, some Republican lawmakers have called for a temporary halt to offshore wind production due to recent whale deaths. Atlantic Shores’ CEO has emphasized the need for offshore wind farms and debunked any correlation or causal relationship between regular ocean seabed surveys and whale strandings. The New Jersey government aims to generate 11 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2040, contributing 30% of the East Coast’s total offshore wind energy production. The draft EIS is now available for public comment, with in-person and virtual meetings scheduled to facilitate engagement and address potential environmental impacts.

Christian M. Ingerslev, former CEO of Maersk Tankers, is set to assume the top position at offshore energy contractor Maersk Supply Service. Ingerslev replaces Steen S. Karstensen, who has led the company since 2016. The transition follows the sale of Maersk Supply Service to A.P. Moller Holding, the parent company of A.P. Moller Group, and the appointment of a new board of directors. A.P. Moller Holding’s finance chief, Martin N. Larsen, will serve as the chair. With Ingerslev at the helm, Maersk Supply Service aims to establish itself as an independent offshore service company and expand its business to support the energy transition. The company currently operates a fleet of 36 vessels and has an upcoming wind turbine installation vessel scheduled for delivery in 2025 for a firm contract with Empire Offshore Wind, a joint venture between Equinor and BP.

After reaching record lows, the tanker orderbook is experiencing a resurgence, fueling expectations of a lucrative earnings period for the sector. VesselsValue data shows a significant year-on-year increase in tanker newbuilding orders, rising by 250% from 24 in the first four months of 2022 to 85 in 2023. The majority of these orders are for Aframaxes/LR2s (39%) and suezmaxes (30%).

Despite the recent orders, industry analysts caution that the global tanker fleet may shrink due to the low orderbook, which reached its lowest point since 1996 in February. Additionally, approximately 34% of the active fleet is over 16 years old. Projections suggest minimal fleet growth in the next few years, with estimates of a 1% increase in the active fleet over the next 32 months, accounting for newbuildings and vessels going for scrap. However, experts foresee a golden age for the tanker sector, citing favorable supply/demand fundamentals and extended delivery lead times that could last until 2027. Asian shipyards have seen a surge in orders for LNG carriers and containerships, with orderbooks stretching up to 3.5 years for renowned shipbuilders.

APM Terminals, a subsidiary of Maersk, has announced a substantial investment of $1 billion in its Brazilian terminals by 2026. The commitment was made by APM Terminals’ CEO, Keith Svendsen, during a visit by a Dutch trade delegation to Brazil. The investment will be allocated to various projects, with a focus on enhancing infrastructure and increasing storage capacity.

A significant portion, approximately $347 million, will be dedicated to the Phase One development of a new terminal in Suape, aiming to improve competition and bolster the port’s capabilities. The remaining funds will be invested in APM Terminals’ four other terminals and inland depots across Brazil, including the renovation of the Brasil Terminal Portuário (BTP) in Santos, a key priority for the company. APM Terminals is also in negotiations with the federal government to extend its concession agreement for the BTP terminal and intends to modernize and double its capacity. Furthermore, discussions are underway with Terminal Investment Limited (TIL) on developing a new container terminal, STS 10, at the Port of Santos. The investment aligns with Maersk’s environmental commitments, with APM Terminals striving for Net Zero Greenhouse Emissions by 2040 and a 70% reduction in emissions by 2030. The company plans to achieve these goals through the electrification of equipment, renewable energy procurement, and optimization efforts to minimize emissions. APM Terminals’ ongoing efficiency drive aims to reduce average port stays by 20% in 2023 compared to 2021, with a target of a 30% reduction by 2025 globally.

Vineyard Wind, a leading offshore wind developer, has announced a program to test the deployment of a novel bubble curtain technology to mitigate noise pollution during offshore wind foundation installation. The initiative will be carried out in collaboration with ThayerMahan, an expert in seabed surveys, acoustic mitigation, and monitoring.

Bubble curtains utilize perforated hoses that release compressed air into the water, creating bubbles around the monopiles used for wind turbine installation, effectively reducing noise levels. Vineyard Wind intends to utilize this innovative solution for the construction of the first commercial-scale offshore wind project in the United States, located off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. The installation will be conducted by the vessel Northstar Navigator, operating from the Port of New Bedford. This marks the first time a U.S.-based company will provide a bubble curtain system for offshore wind projects. Vineyard Wind CEO Klaus S. Moeller expressed enthusiasm about the partnership with ThayerMahan, highlighting the opportunity for U.S. firms to gain experience in the burgeoning offshore wind industry. As part of the operation, ThayerMahan will relocate its headquarters to New Bedford. To support this groundbreaking endeavor, Vineyard Wind’s Industry Accelerator Fund will provide $5 million in funding, facilitated by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. The Vineyard Wind 1 project, situated 15 miles off the Massachusetts coast, will feature 62 wind turbines with an annual electricity generation capacity of 800 megawatts. It is expected to power 400,000 homes and businesses while reducing carbon emissions by 1.6 million metric tons per year.

You can read previous issue of ‘Currents’ here.

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