World of Shipping Portugal

An International Research Conference on Maritime Affairs

28 - 29 January 2021, Hotel Riviera, Carcavelos, Portugal

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Message from the Chairman

 
The historical and the current environment, in which shipping operates, has been and still is a complex and volatile one that needs to adjust to the many boom and bust cycles of the global economy. To add to this complexity, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has been issuing a range of international legislative measures related to maritime safety, marine oil pollution, seafarers’ training, among others to regulate the industry’s operating environment. While they have improved its overall performance, they have challenged the several industry players into the adoption of strategies, policies and measures to implement them, usually at a high cost to the industry.
 
As a response to existing environmental concerns, other than oil pollution, such as noxious liquid substances, sewage, garbage, and invasive species from ballast water, the IMO has been releasing a range of legislative measures to mitigate the impact that shipping operations have on the environment. However, the world focus on climate change has also drawn the attention of the IMO. As a response to existing environmental concerns related to the emission of harmful emissions from ships, and to help to improve the global air quality, the IMO has issued a regulation to impose new emissions standards designed to curb down significantly the pollution produced by the world fleet. Through this regulation, the IMO bans shipping vessels from using fuel with a sulphur content higher than 0.5% thus lowering the present 3.5% limit. The current fuel has a negative effect on human health and is a component of acid rain, which harms both the vegetation and aquatic species.
 
While restrictions on sulphur emissions in shipping are not entirely new because emissions control areas do exist in certain regions of the world, the transition to the IMO 2020 rule, as from 1 January 2020, is a daunting challenge. The current regulation extends the existing 0.1% sulphur cap in designated emission control areas worldwide, and the maritime industry will have to stop burning high-sulphur fuels, as required by the IMO.
 
With the obligation to burn low-sulphur fuels, the maritime industry has been standing in a position where it has been forced to choose among 1) the installation of scrubbers, whose cost ranges from USD$2 and 10 million for each ship, to go on burning high-sulphur fuel oil, 2) the payment for higher low-sulphur fuels price or 3) the use of alternative ‘cleaner’ fuel-powered vessels, in particular LNG and methanol. Subject to the existing alternatives, it is not a surprise that, as of the beginning of July 2019, only 4% of the world fleet was scrubber-fitted and ready to be in operation and the forecasts on this matter were not very positive; this figure is expected to rise to 11% and 15% of the world fleet by the end of 2019 and 2020, respectively. Consequently, the 2020 sulphur regulation is expected to cost the industry about US$50 billion in 2020, and according to a Reuters report, analysts estimate that the container industry alone is expected to bear additional costs of approximately US$10 billion.
 
However, the industry faces uncertainties relating to the actual impact of this regulation. There are still uncertainties relatively to i) the reliability of the scrubber technology, which is a recent and an unproven one; ii) the capacity of refineries in being able to supply the worldwide shipping market, as vessels switch from high- to low/very low-sulphur fuel oil; iii) the worldwide distribution of low-sulphur fuels which raises concerns about their availability in small or distant ports; iv) the price of low/very low-sulphur fuel oil and of high-sulphur fuel oil after 1 January 2020; v) the contribution that the new regulation actually brings to the environment; vi) the behaviour of shipping companies in what concerns the definition of their operational and bunkering strategies; and vii) the level of impacts on the shipping industry’s operating costs and global freight rates, as the additional costs to implement this regulation will have to be passed on the final consumers among many others.
 
However, the entrance of this regulation is just a tip of an iceberg. The new fuel standards target sulphur emissions, not greenhouse gas emissions. This means that the industry is yet to deal with the control of the greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to 2º Celsius by 2100 from pre-industrial levels, aiming to keep warming at or below 1.5º C as requested under the Paris Agreement reached in December 2015. According to a November 2019 United Nations Report the world needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 7.6% per year in the next decade to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals on climate change. Altogether, climate change presents significant market, technology, and regulatory transition challenges and risks for the industry and market players.
 
However, other factors influence the shipping industry. A slowdown in trade is expected to occur if trade wars between countries or between countries and economic regions go on taking place. Concerning the United States and China trade war, the market witnessed some visible signs, which affected the economies of both countries. Moreover, if a trade war between the United States and the European Union exists, with the implementation of tariffs on all goods, a further slowdown in trade will occur. Consequently, manufacturing and distribution companies will redesign the configuration of their supply chains to accommodate the new locations of their production and distribution centres. The impact of these changes to the shipping industry is yet unknown, but they certainly raise concerns about industry demand and capacity levels and the strategies that shipowners will have to adopt depending upon the market segment in which they operate.
 
It is with this challenging background that the 2021 World of Shipping Portugal, an International Research Conference on Maritime Affairs central theme is "In the Aftermath of 2020! What’s Next?". It follows the 2019 World of Shipping Portugal, an International Research Conference on Maritime Affairs that took place on 21-22 of November. The Conference wants to establish itself as a meeting point of reference bringing together the industry, leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of maritime transport to promote a better future for the industry.
 

Welcome to Portugal, the birthplace of the World Discoveries!

 

16 December 2019

 
Ana Casaca
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About the Conference Organiser

 
The Conference organization is under the responsibility of Ana Casaca. Ana Casaca holds a Ph.D. in International Transport/Logistics. Her academic background is supported by her nautical career in the shipping industry. After being at sea for a couple of years, she earned her Bachelor Degree in Management and Maritime Technologies at ENIDH in 1995, her M.Sc. Degree in International Logistics at the Institute of Marine Studies, University of Plymouth in 1997, her professional accreditation from the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers in 1998, and her PhD in International Transport/Logistics in 2003. She published several articles of a professional nature in some industry magazines, but her interest in research would lead her to publish several research papers in well-known international maritime-related journals. Since 2003, she has been invited by the European Commission as an external expert to evaluate transport-related proposals and to review transport-related projects, and by well-known and recognised International Journals to peer review academic papers. She organised in cooperation with Cargo Edições and chaired the 2010 Annual Conference of the International Association of Maritime Economists and the 2012 International Research Conference on Short Sea Shipping. In cooperation with Leo Tadeu Robles, she translated into Portuguese the third edition of the "Maritime Economics" book written by Martin Stopford. Presently, she is the Founder and Owner of the ' World of Shipping Portugal' initiative within the scope of Maritime Economics. She is a member of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS), of the International Maritime Economists Association (IAME) and of the Women's International Shipping and Trading Association Portugal (WISTA Portugal). For further information about her click here.
 
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