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Coatings weigh heavier on contracts

Poor hull and propeller performance is currently estimated to account for around 10% of the world’s fleet energy cost and corresponding greenhouse gas emissions

MANAGING the total cost of operation is fundamental to any successful shipping operation and Lloyd’s List’s recently published Total Cost of Operation Guide has put the spotlight on the effect on overall costs of sailing vessels with poor-quality coatings.

All shipowners and seafarers are aware of the importance of coatings in maintaining ships that are efficient, safe and profitable, even if not every owner uses that knowledge to the best effect.

Above or below the waterline, coatings are the first line of defence against two of a ship’s biggest threats — corrosion and fouling. Protecting against corrosion not only prevents the vessel structure from deteriorating. but also allows the ship to present a good image. That can be an important factor in avoiding a Port State Control inspection or gaining additional employment from a charterer.

Below the waterline, fouling by weed, barnacles and other organisms significantly slows a ship’s speed and adds to the fuel used which both increases operating costs and exhaust emissions. Reduction in efficiency can vary from about 5%-20%.

Stein Kjølberg, global concept director of Norway-based Jotun Hull Performance Solutions, told Lloyd’s List: “Poor hull and propeller performance is currently estimated to account for around 10% of the world’s fleet energy cost and corresponding greenhouse gas emissions. Operators can reduce their fuel costs and emissions significantly if they opt to use proven quality coatings and a standardised approach and data-driven solutions.”

There are also other commercial considerations. If a ship is operating under a time charter agreement, the cost of the fuel falls first on the charterer, but if the ship is not performing as promised because of fouling, then the charterer can put the vessel off-hire and press a non-performance claim against the owner.

“Leading coating suppliers are using the (ISO 19030) standard as a means to measure the performance of their coatings”, said Kjølberg. “We also see that certain projects have started to specify requirements on speed loss according to the standard. Increasingly, they are going back to tonnage providers and requesting coating upgrades in contracts”, he added.

Beginning from the newbuilding stage in a ship’s life, owners need to match the planned operating profile with available products. To do this, they must take an active role in selecting the coating and not rely on the shipbuilder who will almost always look for the cheapest product that claims to meet the owner’s requirements.

To download the full TCO Guide, click here.

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