In an impassioned speech at Riviera Maritime Media’s Asian Tanker Conference, Ardmore Shipping’s chief operating officer Mark Cameron lamented the lack of joined up thinking on environmental compliance and what is required to meet and fund these requirements.
“We're going to have a lot of difficulty meeting the next EEDI standard when it applies to tankers,” Mr Cameron told a packed auditorium at Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre. “I worry about that. I think it's a step in the wrong direction.”
He also said the upcoming IMO sulphur cap highlighted a lack of joined up thinking on environmental and economic issues.
“How much CO2 do you think you're burning when you take SOx out of a fuel? This isn't actually working in the CO2 arguments camp; it's working against it. You try and solve one problem and add to another [one].”
Turning to Ardmore’s 2020 compliance strategy Mr Cameron shared that the company would not be investing in scrubbers “primarily because we can't afford it. If we have got it wrong, we'll put one in later. We’re certainly not criticising anybody for doing it.” He admitted that his outlook has been coloured by the US$750,000 Ardmore spent as an early adopter of a ballast water treatment plant only to find it did not work.
“We have got to look at other ways to fund new environmental technologies. I personally believe ballast water treatment plants are so expensive because all the research and development that went in up front had to be clawed back as quickly as possible.
“As owners and operators, we could look at putting our own money up front into research and development projects. The payback doesn't have to be on a return-on-investment basis. It can be on a cost basis.”
Central to being able to make such investments is cash flow. “Wouldn't it be great if we could actually understand [as an industry] that when you enter into a contract to move goods on an owner’s ship that you pay the owner on time? That would be a real revelation in this industry. Why are we prepared to sit on an US$8M demurrage bill for 300 days? We tolerate this as an industry because we think it's the way that stuff was always done.
“That's not on anymore in a world where our operating costs are going to spiral and go through the roof. The industry needs to come together and say enough. We're funding the balance sheet of our charterers by tolerating unfair, unjust payment terms. And it's about time that changed.”