Tanker Age Discrimination Detrimental for Environmental Goals, Stena Bulk Argues

In addition to presenting a safety threat, the age discrimination of tankers over 15 and 20 years of age could also prevent the embrace of technologies aimed at reversing the climate change crisis, chief executives of tanker shipping companies Stena Bulk and Concordia Maritime have argued.

They said that environmental efforts in the industry are focusing on complying with the IMO2020 sulphur regulation, with many companies making major investments, like exhaust gas cleaning systems, in this area.

This, however, can pose a challenge for shipowners when their earnings are endangered by a short age span of their assets.

“This is only the beginning in our industry that soon will be faced with major investment challenges in the search for fuels that will run our ships when more stringent emission standards become a reality in 2030 and 2050,” Erik Hånell, Stena Bulk chief executive, and Kim Ullman, Concordia Maritime chief executive, noted.

A sustainable approach from a shipowner’s point of view, they elaborated, is to build and maintain quality ships with a technical lifespan of 30 years and apply a financial model with a 25-year repayment year perspective which will enable flexibility and innovations.

“Isn’t age restriction an old way of managing the issues we faced 20 years ago? Now when all serious players in the industry have a complete new set of measurements that controls safety and quality. This would be an easy way to collaborate through the industry and the takers of the services needed in the World to assure we continue to develop these measurements.”

They stressed that age restrictions not only increase the risk of accidents instead of preventing them but also go against the sustainability trend in the global society.

The responsibility for the transition to new fuels must go way beyond developing new ship technology. Innovative shipowners must be supported by an infrastructure that ensures large-scale availability of new fuels.

Hånell and Ullman wrapped up with a question to actors practicing an age limit: “What will be the financial and logistic consequences if the stubbornness damages the innovation of new technology so much that 20 or 30 years ahead you face a shortage of tonnage that complies with the environmental standards because the investments and the many steps we now need to take never took place due to an unhealthy financial environment?”

“As we all know, quality, safety, innovation and performance go hand in hand, while today’s age discrimination is old fashion legacy reducing the possibility to take us into the future in a sustainable way.”