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As shipping stands at the door of 2020 and is moving fast towards 2023, 2030 and on to 2050 it is still clear there is great concern about how to tackle life after January 1 and the Imo sulphur cap kicks-in. As leading shipowner, George Procopiou says: “We have to clean our environment, and therefore there is a need for the desirable to be doable”.

With some 500 delegates from 14 countries representing 255 companies and organisations in the audience, the Greener Shipping Summit 2019 – organised by Naftiliaki / Newsfront, under the auspices of Greece’s influential marine technical managers association, Martecma – Procopiou, as the keynote speaker, set the tone for the event, though speakers and delegates were often still at odds as to how to meet the new environmental regulations just 50 days down the road.

Recognised as one of the world’s leading, and practical, shipowners with a vast experience of running a diversified fleet of tankers, gas carriers and dry cargo ships, Procopiou has long been a vocal voice in the search as to how best approach Imo 2020 and deal with the future. He was quick to brand scrubbers as a hypocrisy, saying “they simply transfer the emissions from the air to the sea”.

Further, fresh from meeting with visiting China’s president, Xi Jinping, the previous day he noted China has banned open-loop scrubbers and from 2020 will ban high sulphur fuel. “China is determined to reduce emissions,” said Procopiou, noting more bans will also soon be implemented.

He quickly confirmed he is, like the Union of Greek Shipowners, a supporter of “lower ship speeds not slow steaming” and wondered “why ships should travel so fast”. He said: “We have to target the reduction of emissions, but it is up to the oil refiners, engine builders and shipyards to lead the way”. He acknowledged lower ship speeds will require more ships to do the transportation job.

Procopiou said the technology exits for the refiners to produce compliant fuel and they should do so. He felt LNG was not the answer either and he would not order an LNG-fuelled ship.

When it comes to regulating the industry post 2020 the Glyfada, Athens-based owner said there is a need for a fair system for existing ships, especially new ships. He said: “it is difficult for Imo to take decisions because of the need for consensus”, but that it is up to Imo and class societies to take more responsibility in meeting the challenges beyond 2020.

– Filed: 2019-11-13