DNV GL London Press Briefing: Gas as fuel, safety, and big data hot topics

Every year, DNV GL invites the maritime press to a briefing on some of the most important shipping topics. This year, writers and editors from some 20 top publications recently gathered at historic Chandos House for an afternoon of engaged discussion with Maritime CEO, Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, and Kenneth Vareide, CEO Digital Solutions. Topics such as the role of gas in the industry’s decarbonization efforts, safety, and the new digital maritime reality were continued during dinner.

Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV GL Maritime
Kenneth Vareide, CEO of DNV GL Digital Solutions

Tackling global transformations

In his presentation, Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen introduced into three global trends that were transforming the maritime world: unpredictable markets, stricter regulations, and rapid advances in technology. Digitalization and decarbonization were driving these transformations, which contribute to a changing maritime risk picture. Some of the emerging safety challenges came from new fuels, technology like battery propulsion, and from cyber-attacks, Ørbeck-Nilssen explained.

Act now with gas as fuel!

Commenting on a recent ICCT study about the climate implications of LNG as a marine fuel, the Maritime CEO underlined that gas is still the best fuel for one or two vessel generations. “The pathway to carbon neutral fuels starts with gas. It is important to act now and not to wait for the ‘perfect’ fuel,” he said. Methane slip is a challenge, Ørbeck-Nilssen acknowledged, but a manageable one. The leakage of methane in the combustion process had been drastically reduced in modern engines, and further improvements could be expected. Referring to data from engine manufacturer Wärtsilä, he noted that the overall GHG emissions from gas engines had been lower than from engines running on MGO for already a decade. In comparison to burning HSFO with a scrubber, the GHG emissions saving potential from 2-stroke engines, which are typically installed on large ocean-going vessels, was still 14% to 21%.

Steppingstones to decarbonization

In order to reach the ambitious IMO goals to reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008, gas as fuel naturally wouldn’t bring enough savings, Ørbeck-Nilssen said. The efficiency of every single vessel and the whole maritime supply chain needed to be further increased. Also, funds were required to develop low carbon fuels to which the evolving gas infrastructure can bridge to in the future. While DNV GL would support the ICS initiative to establish a voluntary carbon R&D fund, a mandatory carbon levy could be an effective way to make quicker progress here, Ørbeck-Nilssen argued.

Mitigating fire risks

Coming back to his safety proposals from last year’s press briefing, the Maritime CEO outlined half a dozen concrete projects with which DNV GL and partners from the industry made significant safety improvements. The most prominent example is the new container ship fire notation awarded to the largest container vessels in the world, MSC’s +23k TEU Gülsün class.

All eleven ships recently received the FCS class notation which proves an extended safety level beyond SOLAS, as well as qualifiers HAZID (hazard identification), FF (enhanced firefighting), and HF (firefighting by hold flooding). While a unique system of powerful on-deck water cannons was installed on board all ships of the class, MSC Febe also pilots an innovative thermal camera detection system, which triggers an early alarm when heat is spotted. Therefore, the ship in addition received the qualifier FD (fire detection).

“Together, MSC and DNV GL have led the industry to a new safety standard in preventing fires on container ships,” Ørbeck-Nilssen said at the press briefing. In an early newbuilding phase, DNV GL had conducted a HAZID workshop with MSC and later witnessed the implementation of the firefighting and fire detection systems.

First Cyber Secure class notation

Further safety initiatives addressed by the Maritime CEO were battery fire safety, barrier reporting in the offshore sector, and cyber security. An exclusive news he shared with the media was the first ever DNV GL Cyber Secure notation, awarded to the drillship Stena IceMAX. It covers all essential marine and drilling systems including DP, propulsion and blowout prevention. DNV GL received very positive feedback from the customer Stena Drilling, Ørbeck-Nilssen said, and is going to help the operator to roll out improved cyber resilience to their whole fleet now.

Unlocking data and reaping its full potential

Kenneth Vareide, CEO Digital Solutions, further looked into the new maritime data reality. Protecting customers’ data was one major task in which DNV GL can support the industry, he said; standardizing it, helping safe sharing of data, and extracting added value from it were other tasks.

Vareide explained with a metaphor that today we are still storing and sending data in a break-bulk style. That is why the industry needed another “container revolution”, in order to standardize data and achieve economies of scale. With Veracity, DNV GL would exactly go into this direction by offering a platform and ecosystem that secures, quality-checks, standardizes and contextualizes information.

He told the journalists that Veracity already has 188,500 activated users – a number that is growing fast. 17,700 companies are registered on the open industry data-platform, while 1.5 million service subscriptions were counted to date.

How Veracity helped Klaveness to optimize efficiency

Vareide then described two maritime use cases to exemplify the benefits of data sharing for the industry. The first one was a project with Norwegian ship operator Klaveness. DNV GL started a pilot project with them last year to collect operational data on board three of their vessels, then upload this data onto Veracity, combine it with other data (e.g. AIS), and run various analytics. This resulted into the optimization of auxiliary engines – and thus savings on fuel, maintenance and spares. The same concept will now be rolled out to boilers and other equipment.

“The superintendents in the office with help from the manufacturers can provide much better remote support to the people onboard since all parties can see the same picture,” described Vareide the advantage of unlocked data.

Data from Digital Twins

In a second example with Dolphin Drilling, Vareide outlined how an operator can make better decisions based on data connected to a digital twin of a hardware asset – in this case a drilling rig. Both the digital twin and the real – DNV GL quality-controlled – streaming data from the rig are being stored on Veracity. This allows to run advanced analytics and optimize operations, e.g. the replacement of drilling components based on actual use rather than time-based schemes. Going forward, Dolphin Drilling plans to collect data on Veracity from all on-board control systems to conduct unified analytics.

“If we manage to bridge the gap of data quality and lack of trust, we will tap into a huge potential of making maritime operations safer and much more efficient,” Vareide summed up.


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