More OSV owners are embracing digitalisation in order to make ’smarter’, data-driven decisions that help improve efficiency
Better control over the maritime logistics supply chain, data-driven decision-making, improved energy efficiency, reduced fuel consumption and superior environmental performance are all part of an increasingly connected OSV market.
A new energy efficiency project underway at Abu Dhabi-based ADNOC Logistics & Services (ADNOC L&S) will embrace many of these digital technology enhancements for its domestic fleet of 95 offshore and marine service vessels.
The project grew out of the successful energy programme the company implemented for its fleet of 27 seagoing ships.
The marine logistics arm of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, ADNOC L&S, is being supported by class society DNV GL for the OSV project. The preliminary assessment of its OSV fleet was completed in 2018, and implementation of the plan will begin in 2020. DNV GL sees a saving potential of 12% for the OSV fleet, with its highly dynamic, short-distance operating pattern.
In the case of ADNOC’s seagoing fleet, DNV GL provided advisory guidance to create a structured overall approach for ADNOC’s Al Daffah Energy Efficiency Project, according to DNV GL head of shipping advisory, maritime advisory South East Europe, Middle East & Africa Benjamin Dineshkar.
A key element of DNV GL’s advisory service was an initial energy efficiency assessment which specifies the potential energy savings for individual cost items in six focus areas: voyage performance; ship performance; fuel management; engines; energy consumers on board; and management and organisation. Based on the assessment, DNV GL assisted ADNOC in developing measures to save costs in each of these six areas. DNV GL predicted a potential fuel savings opportunity of 21% for the fleet.
Management at ADNOC knew that for the project to be successful, they needed a buy-in from employees. “Changing the culture, getting people to accept change and to actually believe that we needed to do something to enhance our energy performance was the greatest challenge,” says ADNOC L&S senior vice president, ship management Capt Mohammed Al Ali. “At the beginning we had to overcome some level of resistance.”
The level of resistance receded after Phase 1, ‘Quick Wins’, of the project plan showed rapid results. Over six months, ADNOC L&S implemented smaller initiatives with minimum investments but a big impact to deliver fast results, including: fuel quality management; autopilot settings; voyage budgeting; propeller polishing; and fuel-saving speed settings. “Seeing a positive outcome quickly was important,” says Capt Al Ali. “At the end of each phase we had town-hall meetings to celebrate our success, give awards and recognise people for special achievements.”
Phase 2, titled ‘Energy Efficiency Enablers,’ ran for 12 months and primarily addressed longer-term changes, such as establishing roles and responsibilities as well as boiler plant maintenance routines. ADNOC L&S also introduced a software-based performance management system that automates many processes. Sensors were installed on board the ships to automatically feed operational data into the software, which compiles reports and sends them to shore. This also eliminates human error, Capt Al Ali points out. In addition, ADNOC L&S set up a standardised training programme for employees. All these measures today form the operational backbone of the company’s energy efficiency culture.
Phase 3, which is ongoing, includes the more capital-intensive measures on the company’s younger vessels, including retrofits with new propellers, propeller boss caps, Becker Mewis Ducts and hull coatings, where appropriate.
“Retrofits can only be made when a ship is due for dry-docking”, explains Capt Al Ali. “Taking ships out of operation just to implement efficiency enhancements would offset the potential savings.”
When the market slowed, ADNOC L&S revised its plan and temporarily focused on measures with short payback periods.
At the conclusion of the five-year project in 2017 came the big surprise: ADNOC L&S had actually surpassed DNV GL’s cost-saving prediction. “We lowered our costs by 23% compared to the 2012 baseline, 2% more than calculated,” says Capt Al Ali. ADNOC L&S invested US$50M and walked away with a total return on investment of US$111M, reducing fuel consumption by 325,000 tonnes and lowering its CO2 emissions by 1M tonnes.
Collecting and managing data for better decision-making is behind recent investments by Maersk Supply Service. The Danish OSV owner is providing dedicated high-speed internet access across a fleet of 40 vessels to energy companies that charter its ships.
Maersk Supply Service will use Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress satellite communications for operational and crew communications.
Maersk Supply Service chief information officer Thomas Stampe says this connectivity enables its vessel crew and charterers to manage data to make quicker and better decisions. The group has become the first shipowner to offer dedicated bandwidth over Fleet Xpress to its clients.
“IT solutions that offer us and our customers greater control and flexibility over data management are key to any initiatives that seek to achieve smarter and more agile vessel performance”, says Mr Stampe.
The Danish group is offering charterer plans on Fleet Xpress. These were designed specifically for OSV operators to meet the increasing connectivity requirements of third-party charterers, without interrupting the vessel’s primary bandwidth or installing new terminals.
Maersk Supply Service will deploy Fleet Xpress on 40 vessels, including platform supply vessels, anchor handlers and subsea support vessels.
This year, Maersk Supply Service adopted a new energy advisory system in support of an initial target to reduce fuel consumption by 5% by 2020.
Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress is a hybrid VSAT service that combines high bandwidth from a constellation of Ka-band satellites with the reliability of L-band.
Maersk Supply Service will use a new dedicated bandwidth service to provide its charterers with their own connection through the same terminal and hardware on the vessel.
Tracking fuel in real time
Since the downturn six years ago, Dubai-based offshore energy logistics provider Topaz Energy and Marine has been transforming itself from a vessel-owning company to a vessel owner and marine logistics supplier. This means investing in fuel management, vessel tracking and equipment health-monitoring systems to gain precise in-transit efficiency and maintenance recommendations.
Topaz Energy installed Fueltrax electronic fuel monitoring systems (EFMS) on 21 of its vessels operating in Nigeria and Azerbaijan for data storage and surveillance. Fueltrax says the EFMS delivers an electronic record of activities using automated operational and fuel data collection, coupling this with precise in-transit efficiency recommendations for vessels located anywhere in the world.
“Digitalisation offers tremendous opportunities for the maritime industry across all sectors and disciplines, and operators are now increasingly acknowledging its importance”, says Topaz Energy chief operating officer Martin Helweg. “As our clients’ demands evolve and shift towards a need for a range of services and solutions, the onus of fuel monitoring will eventually fall on the vessel owners. Through the installation of Fueltrax, we, as an early adopter of this solution, are ready to face this challenge, and look forward to using Fueltrax in our attempt to reduce fuel consumption and thereby the environmental footprint of our vessels.”
In line with its digitalisation efforts, Topaz Energy has also adopted Fueltrax Vision, a new onboard surveillance system which provides a remote view of onboard surveillance footage, stored in a secure database and correlated with onboard fuel activities.
In May, Topaz Energy and Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE), signed a long-term agreement to deploy the ‘health tracker’ system, called VitalyX, which uses the internet-of-things (IoT) in combination with monitoring software and sensors to collect and analyse data from key equipment on board a vessel. The dashboards on board and in the vessel management office display real-time technical information on the condition of a vessel and the maintenance required to achieve optimal performance. Specifically, sensors are deployed on engines, thrusters and gensets that will monitor the lube oil for contaminants, such as metal particles and soot. The idea behind VitalyX is to increase uptime and better plan maintenance.
In June, DP World PLC confirmed the acquisition of 100% of Topaz Energy from Renaissance Services SAOG and Standard Chartered Private Equity/Affirma Capital for an enterprise value of US$1,079M.
As DP World group chairman and chief executive Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem pointed out in announcing the acquisition, it was that investment in marine logistics services that enabled the Dubai-based OSV owner to outperform the market and made it an attractive partner.
Charged up about batteries
With improvements in energy storage systems, battery-hybrid propulsion is becoming increasingly common in the OSV market. There are 28 OSVs with battery power and another 19 under construction, according to DNV GL.
Norway’s state-run energy company Equinor, for one, has started to incorporate concrete requirements into its contracts for battery technology to cut fuel consumption and emissions.
As an early pioneer in electrification, Norway’s Eidesvik Offshore successfully proved out battery technology in its vessels. In June, Island Offshore added batteries to the Island Clipper under a three-year charter to Equinor.
Some US-based OSV owners, such as Seacor Marine and Harvey Gulf International Marine are investing in refitting their vessels with battery-hybrid technology. Harvey Gulf International Marine is refitting its dual-fuel platform supply vessel Harvey Champion with GE’s SeaGreen Energy Storage System (ESS), making it one of the first US-flag OSVs able to operate on LNG or battery power.
Harvey Champion is one of five LNG-fuelled platform supply vessels (PSVs) in operation in Harvey Gulf’s fleet. Another is under construction at its Gulf Coast Shipyard Group (GCSG) in Gulfport, Mississippi. All of the LNG-fuelled PSVs are expected to be fitted with battery-hybrid technology.
Harvey Gulf has already contracted Wärtsilä to supply an energy storage system, energy management system, transformer and drive, all mounted inside a single container for the refit of a sister vessel, Harvey Energy. Wärtsilä will deliver its battery-hybrid module to GCSG in December.
With the implementation of the IMO 2020 global sulphur cap less than six months away, more LNG-fuelled vessels are expected to be ordered. The question is whether they will be OSVs. This year, China Oilfield Services Co Ltd (COSL) did order 12 LNG-fuelled platform supply vessels from Wuchang Shipbuilding Heavy Industry and Liaonan Shipyard in China. In May, propulsion supplier Wärtsilä announced it had secured the order for 40 Wärtsilä 20DF dual-fuel engines for the PSVs.
Maritime Strategies International senior offshore analyst Dr Ferenc Pasztor thinks dual-fuel OSVs could be ordered in niche opportunities, such as when the charterer has gas resources of its own. “It really will depend on what happens after the start of IMO 2020 because of the additional capex”, says Dr Pasztor. “What would be needed to drive LNG-fuelled OSVs is a very low LNG price vs marine diesel oil”, he explains.