Friday, December 6, 2013

EU Collaboration Understands Ocean Freight Depends on Keeping Shipping Lanes Open

Cooperative Project Studies Present and Future of Baltic Navigation and Icebreaker Technology
Shipping News Feature

BALTIC SEA  As we have reported previously there is increasing interest in navigating hitherto impassable waters as the earth warms and the annual ice contracts. With the price of bunker fuel spiralling upward and the search for cleaner transport via lower carbon emissions and with demands of such as the European Commission’s SECA-directive concerning content of sulphur in fuel and the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) where maximum engine power is regulated, keeping the frozen passageways open is of premium importance for the safe carriage of ocean freight and the maintenance of economical trade.

The Ten-T’s Motorways of the Sea project is the maritime dimension of the trans-European network which intends to concentrate on flows of freight on sea-based logistical routes and the projects it helps fund include some of those appertaining to winter navigation and icebreaking, hence a donation of €29.6 million to the WINMOS project which has been put together by Swedish, Finnish and Estonian interests co-financed by the European Commission and with an overall budget of €138 million.

The WINMOS scheme, which got underway last month with a meeting in Helsinki, that aims to safeguard efficient winter navigation in the European Union’s northernmost fairways by safeguarding icebreaking resources in a medium and long term perspective and to develop the winter navigation system as a whole in the Baltic Sea. The project includes several objectives as ‘sub-projects’ which include a full investigation of future icebreaking requirements and the next generation of ships needed to fulfil what will be needed. The extension of the useful life of the existing fleet and the development of technology to reduce emissions in these and future vessels.

In addition there is to be the construction of a Finnish icebreaker and a programme to develop simulator training for officers and further develop management systems for winter navigation and icebreaking. The project is due for completion by the end of 2015 and it aims to secure the future of functional maritime transport in the Baltic region. 15% of the world’s maritime transportation, or more than 750 million tonnes, is performed in the Baltic Sea with around 2,000 vessels in transit through the area at any given time. The sea ice causes huge problems for transport and trade and, during a normal winter, there are about 10,000 calls to ports which have ice related obstacles and delays.