Disruption was a major theme at Nor-Shipping 2017 and in many respects it did not disappoint, whether you believe or not that ships can be displaced by giant vacuum tubes is neither here nor there but just mentioning that possibility along with a number of others was a brave step by the organisers.
But for many visitors, it is the equipment and services in the main halls that are the big attraction and there has been plenty of new developments by exhibitors to set operators minds thinking. Most of these are things that are available now for improving ship operation but some were also thinking ahead albeit not so far as a Hyperloop.
Given that the 2004 ballast convention comes into full effect in a little over three months, this should have been a final opportunity for the many system makers present to extol the virtues of their products. Instead, the delayed MEPC71 that will be held in early July and where the revised G8 guidelines may be finally be agreed was weighing heavily on minds.
The possibility that a new initiative at the meeting that might see the final dates pushed back to 2024 was not especially welcomed but stoically accepted by the system makers present in Oslo. For some it may even be a positive thing as their disillusioned competitors may decide to drop out of the market joining the several that have already done so.
This Nor-Shipping was notable for the much depleted offshore element that normally would be such a strong feature. At the last Nor-Shipping in 2015 it was clear that the majority opinion was that things could only get better, and while the price of crude oil has almost doubled in the last 18 months, it is still below a viable economic level for the offshore sector. It is to be hoped that offshore may return in strength at the next event in two years time but that is something for the future.
That is not to say that the innovation connected with offshore was absent. There was plenty of debate on hybrid ships and the equipment for them was much in evidence in the way of energy storage systems at the exhibition and the presence of the latest hybrid ferry Vision of the Fjords in Oslo harbour. The edge was slightly taken of though because in the absence of new offshore ship orders, most early adopters are likely to be less glamorous ship types such as workboats and ferries.
That may be a good thing as it could lessen the expectations. The last time such a major breakthrough was promised was a decade ago with fuel cells and that has still to be shown as anything more than a research work in progress.