A major incentive to change is the high and rising cost of bunker fuel coupled with tight budgets required by many shipping companies in order to operate profitably, by navies and other government owned fleets where budget constraints are requiring more efficient operation and by the shipping industry as a whole. A fuel penalty of 25-40% represents tens of billions of dollars wasted annually across the world fleet.
The time is certainly right for an overhaul of current, traditional hull coating practices.
The IMO Second GHG Study placed the total world non-military shipping fuel consumption for 2007 at 333 million metric tons.2 It also showed an increase of 80 million tons over a 5-year period. Projecting these figures forward to 2012 would provide an estimate of well over 400 million tons of fuel consumed by non-military shipping in 2012.
Bunker prices in February 2012 averaged over $700 per ton.3 That would put the world shipping fuel bill at $280,000,000,000 for the year. While these figures are estimates, one can easily see that a reduction of 25% fuel consumption as a result of best available hull protection and fouling control practices could save $70,000,000,000 worldwide in one year. That does not include navies.
At a time when pressure to reduce air emissions from shipping is mounting, such a significant reduction in fuel consumption would make a real difference to the global air emissions from ships.
Another factor which reduces the profitability of shipping companies is the frequent need to drydock in order to repair or replenish conventional biocidal antifouling coatings and to clean and repair fouling release coatings. If the drydocking interval could be increased to 71/2 or 10 years, the reduction in drydocking and cost of paint reapplication would help to drastically reduce the cost of transport by sea as a whole. The main reason for a shorter drydocking interval is hull coating maintenance. Were it not for having to repaint, many vessels could stay out of drydock for much longer periods.
There are therefore many reasons, both economic and environmental, to seek a hull protection and fouling control system which does not require frequent renewal, which does not degrade as a ship ages, and which can, economically and without damage to the coating itself or to the environment, be kept clean of any fouling heavier than a light
2 IMO, Second IMO GHG Study 2009.
3 Bunkerworld Daily E-mail, 10 February 2012.
Source: Hydrex whitepaper No. 09