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Paint now or pay later

Bunker fuel represents a significant cost for vessel operators. Now that the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) sulphur cap is in force, those owners who have opted to burn low sulphur fuel are finding the costs even more significant

By Davide Ippolito, Head of Marine Group Product Management, Hempel A/S

Bunker fuel represents a significant cost for vessel operators. Now that the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) sulphur cap is in force, those owners who have opted to burn low sulphur fuel are finding the costs even more significant. Owners continuing to burn high sulphur fuel and clean the exhaust gases through a scrubber might be enjoying a cheaper bunker bill, but they still need to payback the significant investment in their scrubber. Either way, operating a vessel is now more expensive than ever before.

Reducing fuel consumption – and, as a consequence, associated emissions – then becomes a key priority for all vessel operators. A clean hull means less friction, less drag and less power required to drive the ship through the water. Choosing an appropriate hull coating will dramatically influence fuel economy and operating costs.

Fighting fouling

Fouling does not have to be severe to be costly. A hull impacted by just a light layer of slime can require up to 10% more shaft power to maintain a given speed. More dense fouling has a greater impact. With over a century of experience of protecting vessels against fouling, worldwide coatings manufacturer Hempel offers the full range of solutions.

Antifouling paints contain biocides to render inactive marine organisms that have attached themselves to the hull of a ship. Fouling-release solutions rely on achieving an ultra-smooth hull surface that makes it impossible for marine organisms to latch on to. State-of-the-art fouling-defence systems combine both these protective mechanisms. Hempel’s Hempaguard fouling-defence coating achieves the smooth silicone surface delivered by a fouling-release paint but also includes a hydrogel layer at the very surface of the coating which contains the biocide. Because the biocide is pushed to the surface, less than 5% of this active ingredient is required when compared with traditional antifouling alternatives.

Hempaguard MaX

Incorporating Hempaguard into a complete hull coatings system will deliver maximum protection. Hempaguard MaX does just that and its strength lies in the synergies gained from its three layers. Hempaprime Immerse 900 forms the base coat and protects the steel hull from corrosion. It also helps deliver the super-smooth surface required to fight off fouling. Nexus II is used as the intermediary, or tie coat, and Hempaguard X8 performs the fouling-defence role. Together, the system delivers unparalleled fuel savings and, over a five-year period, X8 achieves a guaranteed speed loss1 of no more than 1.2%.

Further savings in drydock time, off-hire time and cost are gained by Hempaguard MaX’s unique three coat application. Other hull systems require five coats. And Hempaguard MaX retains its full effectiveness irrespective of passage speed, trading area or water temperature. The combined savings from increased fuel efficiency and less time spent on application show that Hempaguard MaX can payback the initial investment in as little as three months2.

In the current tanker markets, marginal gains can make the difference between operating at a profit or suffering a loss. The ever-present scrubber debate has overshadowed the discussion on complementary fuel efficiency alternatives. Investing in an optimum hull coating should not be ignored. For an investment that pays-back after just three months, and then continues to generate significant savings for five years or more, the savvy shipowners are choosing to paint now, not pay later.

To see more information about Hempel’s range of protective hull coatings, read more here:

Hempaguard MaX at a glance:

  • An advanced fouling defence coating system with a high degree of smoothness.
  • Low average hull roughness driven by the whole coating system – improving fuel efficiency.
  • Potent anti-corrosive capabilities .
  • Three-coat system that saves up to two days in dock – saving time and money.
  • An improved idle time and antifouling guarantee of 120 days.
  • 1.2% maximum guaranteed speed loss1 over five years.

1 Speed loss: If a vessel’s main engine is set at a certain power output, it will propel the ship through the water at a certain speed. Over time, fouling accumulation will increase drag and cause the speed of the ship to reduce even if the main engine power output remains constant. This reduction in speed is termed “speed loss”.

2Based on a VLCC with an activity level of 70% and burning low sulphur fuel costing 35% more than standard bunker fuel over a five-year life cycle. Hempaguard MaX system delivers an annual saving of around US$1.8M compared to a market average antifouling. This equates to an ROI of three months.

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