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Mediterranean operators push for digitalisation and LNG; face fuel cost challenges

Mon 09 Oct 2017 by Rebecca Moore reporting from the Interferry conference, Croatia

Mediterranean operators push for digitalisation and LNG; face fuel cost challenges
The 42nd Interferry conference is currently being held in Split, Croatia (credit: Remus Pereni)

Interferry’s annual conference kicked off with an address from the Croatian President Andrej Plenković, who told the audience that the country’s ambition within the coastal and inter-island services sector was to have “greater digitalisation”.

The opening panel at Interferry’s 42nd conference held in Split, Croatia, focused on the Mediterranean ferry sector and highlighted challenges and opportunities within this area. The challenge of using low sulphur oil was highlighted.

Minoan Lines managing director Antonios Maniadakis said that the main issue was the cost of fuel. “It is necessary to use 0.5% sulphur fuel but it creates further financial problems.” He said it added more than €2M (US$2.3M) a year to the ferry operator’s costs.

There are moves towards LNG but challenges include that LNG bunkering infrastructure is very limited in the area and the temperature of the seawater. President of Interferry and ex-chief executive of Croatian line Jadrolinija, Alan Klanac pointed out that LNG technology is much less developed for warmer water. “The waters in Norway are 7-10 degrees, in the summer here [Croatia] we face 27 degrees and this is a major issue.”

But there is a push for LNG – Attica Group chief executive officer Spiros Paschalis explained “We as a company are trying to get a proper know-how on LNG ferries.” He said that the company was collaborating on a project for a dual-fuel ferry and is working with a Greek distributor of LNG to see if the infrastructure can be built for ferries.

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