Finding new ways
Maritime transport is undergoing a veritable sea change. Perhaps this is nowhere more evident than in Europe, where new European Commission policies aim to create new “Motorways of the Sea.” These new shipping lanes are intended to develop more eco-friendly transport that reduces overall congestion and improves commercial efficiency.
Madrid-based Grupo Suardiaz is helping lead the charge through its advanced fleet of roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) car carrier vessels. “We’ve always worked to adapt ourselves to new technological advances,” says Juan Riva, CEO of Suardiaz, which provides shipping services for clients in Europe, Africa and South and Central America.
With the ro-ro fleet, Suardiaz is instrumental in developing the Motorway of the Sea between Northern and Southern Europe and North Africa. “It started with a ro/ro car carrier from Vigo to Saint-Nazaire,” Juan says. “Now, we’re extending the lanes down to Morocco and other North African ports.”
Innovation and partnership is nothing new for Suardiaz, which has grown over the decades into one of the most important maritime companies in Spain. It covers all maritime activities, including ship owning, logistics and terminals, while always keeping a clear eye out for future trends.
With new sulfur cap limitations ready to go into effect in 2020 in Europe, Suardiaz stands ready to provide solutions. “Ship owners have basically three options,” says Juan. “In order to get below the 0.5% sulfur cap, they can either use scrubbers, use low-sulfur fuel, or switch to liquefied natural gas (LNG). Scrubbers need constant maintenance, and low-sulfur fuel is too expensive. LNG will be cheaper in the future, and I believe there will be high demand for it.”
Suardiaz is developing LNG-ready bunkering barges, classed by Bureau Veritas. “We are working closely with Bureau Veritas on this,” Juan says. “We’re always looking for innovators, and other class societies I tried in the past were not able to offer that knowhow. So, about 10 years ago, I switched to Bureau Veritas. They not only help from the point of view of inspection and certification, but they can really bring a creative element to the table. And as a matter of course, they make sure we comply with all regulations.”
“We’re always looking for teams that can bring a good technical background and experience when we come up with new solutions,” Juan says. “We have that with Bureau Veritas. We don’t view them as just an ‘external provider.’ We see them as a true strategic partner.”