Sofia Fürstenberg Stott: Nor-Shipping
The maritime industry “needs to unlock opportunities a little outside its current remit” Sofia Fürstenberg Stott, Nor-Shipping’s development director told 'MJ'. And she’s determined to hand it a key.
“One of the first things that started me thinking was an OECD report that stated the ocean economy could treble by 2030 – but this wasn’t anticipated to come from shipping as we know it,” she said. Instead, growth depended on both new and developing industries: contenders include everything from renewable energy to deep sea mining and ocean harvesting.
On the other hand, there’s a large industry on the lookout for business. Recent crossovers have been at least partly driven “by challenging current maritime economics” said Fürstenberg: “For example, oil and gas boats have moved over to wind... and we’ll be seeing more and more of this kind of thing”.
Of course, that vision isn’t an unmixed blessing for the current support sector – at least for those that want to hang on to the status quo. However, she’s equally clear the world is about to broaden for those able to respond to new initiatives.
For instance, there are ecologically-focused programmes from established players: some, like Norway’s Equinor, need support in transitioning from fossil fuel into renewables. Other projects are still creating a foundation for themselves, but looking for expertise to help them build a sustainable future: “We have already seen Maersk Supply Services get involved in the Ocean Clean Up,” she pointed out.
Further, while recent advances will likely push an evolution in support vessels, it could also engender another round of innovation: “Will we see battery driven vessels using floating windfarms, for example, as a recharging hub?”
However, there’s the matter of timing: “When these new technologies have been piloted and trialled, that’s when existing maritime companies should be there to start exploring new value propositions, new business ventures.”
Which is why Nor-Shipping “wants to be more than just a commercial window to showcase solutions in an existing space, and is aiming to become something like a ‘think tank’, to help the industry to define its forward pathway... and do it with a commercial hat on”, she said. More, it’s aiming to make its findings “simple, digestible and actionable”.
The team’s first large-scale effort in this arena, last year’s Opening Oceans conference in Copenhagen, saw representatives from aquaculture, deep-sea mining, wave power, and ocean harvesting of seaweed for fuel all turn up “to show the incumbent maritime industry what emerging possibilities were out there” Fürstenberg explained.
These ideas - which are being taken forward into the next Nor-Shipping event - aim to open opportunities that can extend from ship to port “and right up the supply chain”. However, she underlined: “Even if we adopt digital solutions and smart data, if we continue on the same trajectory we’ll only see incremental changes; if we don’t change the business model itself the industry will miss its environmental targets.”
And, of course, a lot of interesting ventures.
By Stevie Knight
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