Speaking at the Asian Tanker Conference in Singapore, Bureau Veritas’ Carlos Guerrero discusses the class society’s approach to technology, regulations and LNG as fuel
Tanker Shipping & Trade: What is Bureau Veritas’ (BV) current focus in the tanker sector?
Carlos Guerrero: As a classification society BV is focused on the technical and technology issues of its tanker clients, helping with regulatory compliance, overall safety and operational performance. In that respect, BV does not have an opinion on the direction of the tanker market, but keeps a close eye on the overall regulatory landscape and the technical and emergent solutions influencing operator behaviour.
Today, environmental regulatory pressure is the big factor – headed by Marpol Annex VI global marine fuel sulphur cap and the IMO GHG strategy (to 2050). This is a big unknown and, of course, any changes in future demand for oil and its products will also affect the tanker trades.
The key for us is helping our tanker clients be competitive and safe. That involves understanding their concerns to minimise their technical risks and their opex while maximising safety.
Tanker Shipping & Trade: How is BV helping clients meet Marpol Annex VI requirements?
Carlos Guerrero: Obviously, the challenge of meeting the 0.5% global sulphur cap is uppermost in the minds of many of our clients. Verifuel, our fuel experts, are providing technical insight and leadership, as well as fuel testing for the new low sulphur fuel oils (LSFOs). From our perspective, we cannot advise on fuel availability, but given the fact that all but a small minority of ships will need compliant fuel, we expect that LSFO will be available and quality issues will not present a greater challenge than those of today. Although the importance of a good bunker quality survey should not be underestimated.
“The question of whether to scrub or not has generated a lot of heat and attention”
We would emphasise fuel compatibility and technical competence around fuel management. The composition of the new fuels will be very different to current HSFOs, so while a supplied LSFO could be a good and stable product, compatibility issues could arise by mixing it with fuel already on board. Awareness here is vital. The same is true for ensuring that crew are adequately trained to manage the new fuels, the required segregation and tank cleaning.
Tanker Shipping & Trade: How is BV helping clients on the issue of scrubbers?
Carlos Guerrero: We are helping by providing effective plan approval and support for conversions and newbuilds during installation and, of course, during operations. The question of whether to scrub or not has generated a lot of heat and attention and there are different perspectives. What is clear is that [scrubbers] seem most likely to be adopted by larger ships with higher fuel consumption, increasing the potential payback based on anticipated margins between the cost of HSFOs and LSFOs.
Tanker Shipping & Trade: What will be the impact of digitalisation?
Carlos Guerrero: The world is digital now and so is BV. We have developed a broad platform of web and mobile applications to digitise our activities and we are seeing real payback from these with benefits to both ourselves and our clients. The next step, that we are already well on the way with, is to develop digital solutions to create new business models or transform how we do business.
Our asset management platform, VeriSTAR AIM 3D, and the progress we are making in 3D classification, are both examples of transformative solutions. If the goal is asset and operational performance, underwriting everything are our cyber-security notations, Cyber Managed and Cyber Secure, which we published in 2018.
“If the goal is asset and operational performance, underwriting everything are our cyber-security notations”
Tanker Shipping & Trade: What role will Singapore play in the ‘LNG as a marine fuel’ debate?
Carlos Guerrero: Of course, we cannot talk about tankers without mentioning how important Singapore is for tanker trades and to BV. As a key hub for petro-chemical trades and a strategic location for tanker trades, Singapore is vital. We see Singapore investing in LNG to expand its importance as a bunkering hub for all ship types. As the classification leader in LNG as fuel and LNG bunkering, BV has been closely involved in developments in Singapore.
We were very pleased to announce in late January the appointment of a new head for our south Asia zone, with David Barrow taking the role of vice president, based in Singapore. Naturally, David is a tanker guy, with a Master’s ticket, who began his 30-year career in shipping classification on the bridge of tankers and gas carriers.
Tanker Shipping & Trade: Any other thoughts on LNG as a marine fuel?
Carlos Guerrero: BV was the first class society to introduce rules for dual-fuel tankers and we have extensive experience [in this area], which we are now applying to a wide range of vessel types, including product tankers.
Name: Carlos Guerrero
Title: Bureau Veritas global market leader for oil tankers and gas carriers
Role: To develop the business in the field of oil and gas, closely monitoring subjects such as the use of LNG as a fuel, innovation in gas carrier designs, new gas containment systems and risks studies.
Commercial Background: Worked in various capacities in Spanish shipyards, including production department, technical office, and commercial department.
Education: M.Sc. Naval Architect and Oceanic Engineering degree by the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain).
Taking a lead among class for gas fuel projects
The first complex product tankers to be built from the keel up were two 14,000 dwt gas-fuelled asphalt/product tankers ordered from Turkish shipbuilder Besiktas Shipyard for Quebec-based Transport Desgagnes. They operate on LNG fuel while working in the emission control areas covering North American waters.
According to Carlos Guerrero, the fuelling arrangement of the two Transport Desgagnes tankers involves two 300 m3 Type C LNG tanks on the deck. “The LNG powers the dual-fuel Wärtsilä ME 5RT Flex 50 main engine and two dual-fuel 6L20 engines, as well as one 8L20DF auxiliary engine and two 3000kW boilers,” he explained to TST sister title LNG World Shipping.
Back in 2016, the use of LNG fuel had yet to catch on with many owners for a variety of reasons, including the technical complexity of using LNG fuels and the uncertainty of future bunker prices. Certain regulations, such as the international code for ships using gas or other low flash-point fuels (IGF Code), have also contributed to a reluctance among owners to adopt LNG fuels.
“Now that IMO has updated and adopted the IGF Code, the regulatory worries that were holding back owners have been removed,” explained Mr Guerrero. “There are a host of new gas fuel projects about to start as owners take advantage of this clean and economical fuel. Our expertise in risk assessment complements our experience with gas carriers, which is why we are the class of choice for innovative gas fuel projects.”
Bureau Veritas also assessed the use of Wärtsilä medium-speed, dual-fuel engines using ethane as fuel. In doing so, the class society for the Dragon-class ships verified the viability of the option. According to Mr Guerrero: “The revised International Gas Carrier (IGC) Code permits the use of ethane as propulsion system fuel, provided it guarantees the same level of safety as the burning of natural gas. In addition, the approval is subject to the ship’s flag administration.”