Strong partnerships to shape the future of bulk carriers
Strong, supportive partnerships provide the keys to operating a sustainable maritime business. We spoke with Charis Plakantonaki, Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) of Star Bulk, about how it’s overcoming the challenges of future proofing bulk carriers with Bureau Veritas (BV) at its side.
What are Star Bulk's priorities in the run up to 2030?
As a leader in the dry bulk industry, Star Bulk’s goal is to be frontrunners in the areas of decarbonization, safety and technology as well. Looking towards 2030, our main environmental priority is to continuously improve the energy efficiency of our fleet, ensuring compliance with the IMO targets on Energy Efficiency Existing Ship Index (EEXI) and the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII).
To achieve these goals, we have conducted a thorough audit of our fleet – helped by BV – to determine which vessels require efficiency improvements. This could be technical solutions such as engine power limitation or retrofitting the ship with an energy-saving device, or operational measures such as speed optimization and advanced hull coating. Until a clear frontrunner emerges, Star Bulk remains agnostic as to our choice of green fuel. In the meantime, we’re open to renewing our fleet through merger and acquisitions as well as the chartering-in of modern energy efficient tonnage.
What needs to happen for a clear alternative fuel option to emerge?
Star Bulk places a great deal of importance on the research and development related to alternative fuels. We actively participate in consortiums focusing on zero-emission fuels, such as the Getting to Zero Coalition.
The introduction of new zero-emission fuels raises not only the question of technical feasibility, but also of the infrastructure related to their production, transportation, bunkering and storage, as well as their price competitiveness compared to conventional fuels.
What is the foundation of Star Bulk’s long-standing partnership with Bureau Veritas?
BV offers a first-class service for classification as well as auditing and consulting. It has been helpful in advising us on potential solutions for our fleet to meet both the one-off EEXI and the moving CII targets.
Beyond providing technical insights, BV takes a customer-oriented approach. The team is quick and flexible in responding to our needs. We can rely on BV to go above and beyond, whether we need guidance or technical input. We always receive proactive, expert support in all relevant fields.
Furthermore, we’re aligned in our company values: openness and honesty, initiative, entrepreneurship, teamwork and knowledge exchange. This makes BV a trusted, valued partner.
How can class societies assist the shipping industry in preparing for the future?
The main challenge lies beyond 2030. This is particularly dependent on IMO carbon targets, but whatever the decision, our focus must be on decarbonization, digitalization, and talent management.
On one hand, green fuel roll-out remains uncertain and long-term dry bulk demand is difficult to predict. However, many vessels will need to slow speed to meet CII targets, and the least efficient may exit the market. This will likely reduce the supply of available tonnage, and benefit the bulker market.
We will increasingly rely on class societies to help us tackle environmental and digitalization challenges, including cyber security risks. Perhaps class societies could also channel their knowledge to help us attract new talent specialized in the maritime sector and further develop the skills of our existing teams.
The bulker sector – and the shipping industry as a whole – is preparing the necessary evolution to tackle future challenges. To be a supportive partner, class must evolve in parallel, meeting their needs and remaining by their side in the run up to 2030 and beyond.