The ShipInsight Conference will map a global transition

Paul Gunton

Paul Gunton · 14 November 2019


When ShipInsight’s annual conference convenes on 26-27 February 2020, the industry will be just a few weeks into what is probably the biggest and sharpest transition it has ever faced: from a global cap of 3.50% sulphur in fuel to just 0.50%.

But other transitions are also taking place. While IMO plots its well-signposted course towards zero carbon emissions, regulatory changes and technological developments being made that will have big impacts for years to come. Ballast water management, advances in communications and data, autonomous shipping and many other technological changes are transforming the industry now and will continue to do so over the coming years.


The conference title, A Global Transition, reflects these huge changes and the event will provide two days of deep discussion on industry ambitions and business reality with panels of industry experts and keynote speakers. In a discussion-led format that proved both popular and effective at the 2019 inaugural conference, they will tackle topics guided by input and reactions from delegates themselves, ensuring that the debates are relevant and rigorous.

The conference’s opening session will address the sulphur cap and the fuel choices available to shipowners and operators. It will provide a unique opportunity for an early review of how the initial introduction of the new rules is working out and consider whether the transition is proving to be a success or whether practical difficulties are emerging.

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Speakers are currently being finalised and will be added to the published programme as their attendance is confirmed, but the panel for this session is expected to include speakers representing shipowners, fuel suppliers, class and equipment providers.

ShipInsight has frequently written about the various fuel options expected to be available, from low-sulphur fuel oils to other liquid fuels, such as methanol, and gasses, including LNG and LPG. More exotic fuels such as hydrogen and ammonia may become available in the future, especially if IMO’s planned strategy of eliminating carbon emissions from ships is to be achieved. That topic will be discussed in a separate session later on Day 1 of the conference.

It may also have become clear by then how many operators plan to continue using HFO and scrubbers in the short and long term, perhaps using low-sulphur fuel on an interim basis if they have not been able to book shipyard space to install exhaust gas cleaning systems by the end of the year. One major operator has invested heavily in storing large quantities of compliant fuel to give it time to consider its policy on scrubbers.

So although the implementation deadline will have passed by the time delegates assemble in London, many of them will still have decisions to make and investments to consider and this session alone will justify their attendance at the event.

To make the conference particularly relevant, it will be possible to book for either or both of its two days, which will mean that those attending Day 1 will all have responsibilities in assessing their companies’ fuel choices and other technical policies. The discussions during the panel sessions and during the refreshment breaks will therefore be particularly focused and valuable.

Its location has also been carefully chosen – just across the river from IMO’s London headquarters – which presents opportunities for meetings before or after the conference with regulators. Its timing is also significant, taking place just a few days after the seventh meeting of IMO’s Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response. PPR has played a vital role in developing guidelines on consistent implementation of the 2020 sulphur limit and discussion of that meeting’s decisions is likely to feature during the conference’s opening session.

Conference bookings are now being taken and ShipInsight readers should reserve their places online now to be sure of taking part in the second ShipInsight annual conference.

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