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June 23, 2023

Japan has achieved a significant milestone in the shipping industry by successfully conducting trials using liquefied bio-methane (LBM), derived from cattle manure, as an alternative ship fuel. Mitsui OSK Lines (MOL) collaborated with LBM manufacturer Air Water to test the feasibility of transporting, supplying, and using bio-LNG fuel on their LNG-fueled cargo vessel, Ise Mirai. The trial confirmed that LBM can be transported through the existing domestic LNG supply chain and used as a marine fuel. The project involved several stakeholders, including JERA, Techno Chubu, Kyoudou Kaiun, Cenergy, and IHI Power Systems. MOL continues its efforts in exploring various alternative fuel projects, such as ammonia, hydrogen, and methanol, as well as innovative approaches like utilizing microplastics collected from the sea as an energy resource.

After nearly two decades of negotiations, the United Nations (UN) has successfully adopted a legally binding marine biodiversity agreement that covers two-thirds of the Earth’s oceans. Known as the High Seas Treaty, this agreement aims to protect the marine environment, preserve ocean ecosystems, and conserve marine biological diversity. It addresses crucial issues such as plastic pollution, overfishing, and climate change, while recognizing the rights and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities. The treaty enables the establishment of marine protected areas and takes into account the special circumstances faced by small-island and landlocked developing nations. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) welcomes this historic adoption, highlighting its importance in ensuring proper regulation and management of the oceans for sustainable use and preservation.

China has unveiled its first domestically produced rotor sails, which have been installed on an 11-year-old bulk carrier. CSSC Chengxi Shipbuilding equipped the vessel, named Chang Hang Sheng Hai, with four Flettner rotor style sails. These sails, developed over the past three years, measure 3 meters wide and 24 meters tall, and are expected to achieve energy savings exceeding 5%. Rotor sails are gaining popularity in the shipping industry as wind-assist technologies. Finland’s Norsepower and the UK’s Anemoi Marine Technologies currently lead the market in manufacturing spinning cylinders that utilize the Magnus effect to harness wind power for ship propulsion. The increasing availability of wind-assist technologies offers shipowners multiple options for achieving greater energy efficiency and reducing emissions.

Rescue teams are urgently searching for a tourist submersible that disappeared during its descent to the wreck of the Titanic in the North Atlantic. The U.S. Coast Guard has deployed remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to trace the origin of underwater sounds detected by Canadian aircraft. The 21-foot submersible, named Titan, operated by OceanGate Expeditions, lost contact with its parent vessel shortly after its descent. The search operation faces challenges due to the complex nature of the site, including metal and other objects that hinder source identification. The submersible has sufficient air supply for 41 hours, with a deadline of approximately 1000 GMT on Thursday. Rescue efforts are complicated by the depth and darkness of the ocean floor, making sub-to-sub rescues extremely difficult. The disappearance of the submersible, carrying five people, including British billionaire Hamish Harding, has garnered international attention.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recently published a report investigating a fire incident on the luxury yacht Pegasus in Gig Harbor, Washington. The fire, which occurred on July 15, 2022, caused extensive damage to the vessel, resulting in its total loss. Fortunately, there were no reported injuries. According to the NTSB report, the fire was attributed to the improper storage of oily rags on the yacht.

The investigation revealed that a bag containing rags soaked with a raw-linseed-oil product had been left beneath a table on the aft deck, leading to spontaneous combustion due to self-heating. Oily rags, commonly used for painting and refinishing, pose a significant fire hazard if stored inappropriately. The accumulation of heat within piled-up or bagged oily rags restricts heat dissipation, creating a high risk of spontaneous combustion.

To prevent similar incidents, the NTSB emphasizes the importance of mariners meticulously adhering to the manufacturer’s instructions for the cleanup and disposal of oil-based products, rags, brushes, steel wool, and other applicators. By following proper guidelines, mariners can mitigate the potential fire risks associated with these materials.

Lorentzen & Co, a renowned Norwegian shipbroker with a history spanning over a century, has recently filed for bankruptcy. The Oslo-based firm, previously known as Lilleaker Shipping Advisors, had been facing substantial losses for several years, prompting the decision.

Established in 1919 by the four sons of captain and shipowner Johannes Lorentzen, Lorentzen & Co expanded its operations into shipowning and dry cargo ship activities over time. The company underwent structural changes in 1959, dividing into Lorentzen Chartering and F H Lorentzen & Sons. Eventually, Lorentzen Chartering merged with Stemoco in the mid-1990s, leading to the formation of Lorentzen & Stemoco. In 2013, the Tidemand family became the sole owners of the company after buying out other shareholders. The firm’s bankruptcy is accompanied by a debt of approximately NOK100 million ($9.3 million), with a significant portion owed to the parent company Tidships. Internal changes within the organization, including the departure of key employees, further complicated the company’s financial situation.

Woodside Energy Group Ltd., Australia’s largest oil and gas producer, has approved a substantial investment in a $7.2 billion oil field project off the coast of Mexico. The Trion oil field, a joint venture with Mexico’s state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), is poised to become Mexico’s first offshore deepwater oil project.

Anticipated to commence production in 2028, the Trion oil field holds estimated resources of 479 million barrels of oil equivalent. Woodside’s decision to proceed with this project marks its first significant investment in fossil fuels since acquiring BHP Group Ltd.’s petroleum business in 2022. Woodside CEO Meg O’Neill reaffirmed the company’s commitment to meeting global energy demands while addressing climate concerns. O’Neill stated that approximately two-thirds of the Trion resource is expected to be extracted within the initial ten years after production commences. Subject to regulatory approval, Woodside will invest $4.8 billion in the project, leveraging its 60% stake inherited from BHP. The floating production unit of the field will possess the capacity to produce 100,000 barrels of oil per day.

Tropical Storm Bret, an early system in the Atlantic hurricane season, is nearing the Caribbean, accompanied by another system gathering strength behind it. This simultaneous activity signifies an exceptional and disquieting start to the hurricane season. Bret’s formation east of the Caribbean’s Leeward and Windward Islands marks the furthest east and south a storm has originated since records began in 1853. The system, positioned approximately 835 miles (1,344 kilometers) from the Windward Islands, has prompted tropical storm watches in Dominica and Barbados, as indicated by the US National Hurricane Center.

Typically, the area between the Caribbean and Cabo Verde islands off Africa, known as the main development region, begins producing a string of storms closer to mid-August. This region has historically given rise to some of the most devastating storms in history, attracting meteorologists’ attention. The presence of Bret and another system with a 70% chance of developing into the next storm hints at heightened activity in the deep tropical Atlantic, reminiscent of the peak of hurricane season. Ryan Truchelut, president of WeatherTiger LLC, expressed concerns about the alarming activity in June, suggesting favorable conditions for more storms in the main development area until August. Bret is expected to reach the resort destinations of the islands as a tropical storm late Thursday or early Friday. Previous forecasts anticipated its intensification into a hurricane, but current projections indicate that wind shear and dry air will impede its strength.

You can read previous issue of ‘Currents’ here.

Disclaimer: ‘Currents’ is an online shipping news service by Earl’s Rock Trading (Pvt) Ltd that reports on the latest developments and trends in the maritime industry. We do not take any responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information provided in our news stories or for any opinions expressed by the people quoted in them. Our aim is to provide our readers with up-to-date news and insights from reliable sources. However, we do not endorse or take any responsibility for any actions taken by our readers based on the information provided in our news articles. We also want to make it clear that we do not own any of the images used in our news stories, unless stated otherwise. All images belong to their respective owners, and we use them solely for illustrative purposes. If you are the owner of any image used in our news stories and want it to be removed or credited, please contact us, and we will take the necessary action.