November 2020 | Ecological aspects are among the greatest challenges in shipping. In the third part of our interview with Jens-Michael Arndt and Markus Lange, managing partners of the shipping company Vogemann and issuers of the Vogemann Green Ship Token, you will learn how Vogemann meets this challenge and what makes Handysize-Bulker so special.
neoFIN: Why did you choose the Handysize class? What makes this segment so special?
Jens-Michael Arndt: Handysize bulkers are the smallest, internationally operating bulkers. But small is relative here: the ships are 180 meters long and have a draught of almost 10 meters.
They are “handy” because they can call at almost all major ports. The dimensions of the handysize bulkers are based on a very large number of ports, especially in development areas, which can just about accommodate this size of ship.
In contrast to container ships, a bulk ship transports raw materials such as coal or ore as well as food products such as grain, rice and sugar. The trade routes have been tried and tested for decades. Unlike container traffic, for example, where the impact of 3D printers on trade routes cannot yet be assessed, changes in trade flows are virtually impossible in bulk shipping.
This is because the places where raw materials are extracted or food is grown are not where it is needed. Transport to the places of consumption is absolutely necessary.
Markus Lange: The segment is also interesting for us because there are many suppliers and many customers. This is not the case in the larger segments of the bulk sector. Furthermore, the age structure of the Handysize fleet is significantly older than in all other segments of bulk, container or tanker shipping. The number of newbuilding orders is also very good compared to the number of ships that will leave the fleet for age reasons. There is in fact a significant gap that we are now filling.
In short: perfect prospects for investors investing in new tonnage in this segment.
neoFIN: You continue to rely on diesel engines, why not on liquid natural gas (LNG) propulsion?
Jens-Michael Arndt: There are essentially two reasons why we decided against LNG drives:
- The technology is not yet mature. Because of the so-called methane slip (unburned methane gets into the exhaust air), the CO2 pollution is higher than with diesel engines. This is not only our opinion, but also confirmed by recent studies of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
- Since our ships are used worldwide, LNG would also have to be available worldwide as a fuel for ships. This is far from being the case. Even in the Port of Hamburg, the availability of LNG is not always guaranteed. This is even more true for ports in West Africa in the Caribbean and in Asia.
But to be prepared for all possibilities, we have equipped our newbuildings in such a way that a conversion to LNG is technically possible. So if the two points mentioned above are eliminated, a changeover to LNG operation would be technically possible.
neoFIN: What other measures are you taking to increase the energy efficiency of your ships?
Jens-Michael Arndt: We are in constant dialogue with the shipyard. This involves issues such as the shape of the hull, the propellers and the rudder shapes. We are also in an intensive exchange with MAN, who manufacture our main engines. We have already had the very latest generation of main engines installed in our latest newbuildings. They are largely responsible for ensuring that we already meet the strict emission values for newbuildings for the year 2029. And these are not theoretical assumptions, but real values from our ships, which have now been in service since the beginning of January 2019 and summer 2019 respectively.
neoFIN: Where do you see the biggest challenges in your industry in the coming years?
Markus Lange: Over the next few years, it will become clear which alternative fuels will prevail in the long term to power cars, ships and aircraft. Then it will take another few years until the drive units are developed to the point where they are suitable for mass production.
During this transition phase, the drives must be as economical as possible and at the same time as ecological as possible. This is an enormous challenge. With our “Green Ship” we are consistently taking the first step in this direction.
Have you missed part one of our series? Then you can read it here. For the second part click here.