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ICS annual summit conference assesses many challenges facing global shipping

By Leo Ryan, Editor

Montreal – In a rare such event held in Canada, representatives from marine shipping organizations around the world were holding a one-day conference today at Montreal’s Grand Quay to explore how to best surmount the unprecedented challenges sparked by a unique combination of widespread  geopolitical and economic issues, decarbonization efforts, trade protectionism and workforce shortages. Entitled The Future of Shipping – Global Trade and Resilience, the summit gathering is staged by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the Ottawa-based Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC).

At a press briefing prior to the in-camera business sessions, the rising interest in sustainable, alternate fuels to traditional bunker fuel still mainly used by nearly 60,000 vessels was notably addressed by Emanuele Grimaldi, ICS Chairman who also chairs the powerful, Naples-based Grimaldi Group well known for its big fleet of car carriers, ICS  Secretary General Guy Platten, and Bruce Burrows, the CMC President.

The options for duel-fuel vessels range from LNG (leading the present trend) to methanol, ammonia, hydrogen and even nuclear-propulsion.

However, Mr. Grimaldi acknowledged that as the marine industry seeks to achieve net-zero emissions “by or around 2050” to meet the target of the International Marine Organization, much progess was still required in infrastructure supply. “We are looking with keen interest to methanol, because methanol can also be produced through the garbage.”

He pointed out that agricultural waste, city garbage, leaves and branches all represented sources of feedstock for so-called bio-methanol. He equated to “something that is gold.”

Mr. Grimaldi said his firm was looking at ammonia, which emits no carbon dioxide during combustion, to power the engines of its new-generation cargo carriers. Not immediately available, such engines could be delivered late this year or in early 2025. “For our passenger ships and for our ferries, we are looking more at methanol.”

For his part, Bruce Burrows noted that “the marine sector will be one of the many consumers and users of these new fuels. We will all be queuing up and wanting some sort of preferential treatment. That’s going to be a competitive world – there will be limited supply and there will be lots of demanders. It behooves us with the entire supply chain to come together with our customers.”

“We should never discourage efforts at different options,” opined Mr. Grimaldi.

And Mr. Burrows and Mr. Platten concurred that one had to take into account the “many regional varieties and styles of trading.”

From left to right;  Guy Platten, International Chamber of Shipping Secretary-General; Emanuele Grimaldi, International Chamber of Shipping Chairman and Managing Director of Grimaldi Group (Italy); and Bruce R. Burrows, President and CEO of the Chamber of Marine Commerce (Canada).

Photo Sophie Belina Brzozowska