On Friday, 20 November 2015 the official presentation of the project «EUROPA SHIP Plan» took place onboard the historic «SS Hellas Liberty». The event gathered over a hundred attendees representing Governmental organizations, Shipowners, high-level European Commission & Member States Executives, LNG Industry stakeholders, Banks and Shipping funds, as well as other members of the Shipping and Energy Community.
The scope of the event was to propel and offer insights into the technical and financial aspects of the EUROPA SHIP Plan and also to introduce a sustainable financing strategy for the renewal of the European Short Sea Shipping fleet (starting from the Mediterranean), by adding innovative and green characteristics to it. The project is targeting the entire Short Sea fleet including freight and passengers short haul vessels (wet and dry bulkers, Containers, Car Carriers, RoRo and RoPax vessels).
The event was opened and chaired by Mr. Charalambos Simantonis the President of The Hellenic Shortsea Shipowners Association. In his welcome speech, emphasized on the goal and objectives of the program and its innovation, as it is the first organized attempt of European Shortsea fleet renewal, so that it can respond to increased environmental obligations, deriving from the relevant European Community Directives. Mr. Simantonis stressed upon the fact that the program aims at financing and does not subsidy for ship building.
Mr. Simantonis left the floor to Mr. Thodoris Dritsas, the Minister of Shipping and Island Policy in Greece, who hailed with optimism this new idea. In his speech referred to the developmental nature of the program and the potential contribution, in achieving both the environmental and the economic goals, while he emphasized in the importance of linking this project with domestic shipbuilding.
Mr. Michael Sakellis, the President of Hellenic Passenger Shipping Association, closed the first session of the event by highlighting on the interesting character of the whole project and referring to the positive stance that the members of the Association have already expressed, considering that in the near future a significant number of vessels has to be replaced.
The second session of the event, the Financial and Technical Session, was opened and chaired by Dr. Panayotis Zacharioudakis, the Coordinator of Europa Venture SPV. Dr. Zacharioudakis was the one who essentially introduced the main concept and financing possibilities of the EUROPA SHIP Plan, and also elaborated on the next steps ahead. Dr. Zacharioudakis, in his presentation stressed one of the main goals of this project that is the effort to entirely build the planned new buildings in European shipyards, which will assist in strengthening the currently weak European economy.
Dr. Zacharioudakis left the floor to Mr. Leonidas Karistios, the Global Gas Technology Market Manager of Lloyd’s Register, who discussed the change on the public perception and industry hesitations over the use of LNG as a fuel and the impact that the scale has on the feasibility of am LNG fueled ship using case studies from the industry. While, the last part of the second session was covered by Dr. Hans Meissner, the Manager of Marine Consulting Holdings Ltd, who analyzed his view regarding the idea of the future SSS Fleet vessel development, and also discussed the cost saving opportunities for the new SSS vessels.
During the third and final session of the event Mr. Jose Anselmo, the Principal Administrator Motorways of the Sea (MoS) and Mr. Stephane Ouaki, the Head of Unit, Connecting Europe- Infrastructure Investment Strategies, European Commission, presented and discussed about the possibilities and prospects of the existing European financial tools in supporting the goal of the EUROPA SHIP plan.
The event closed with a fruitful discussion between the invited high-level stakeholders and the speakers. The members of the panel shared their concerns and opinions about the adoption of LNG as a shipping fuel and the utilization of the presented initiative for the renewal of the Mediterranean shortsea fleet. Though, opposite opinions were expressed by a small number of stakeholders, the Shipowners illustrated a forward-looking view for the EUROPA SHIP plan and the next steps ahead.
In conclusion, the EUROPA SHIP Plan comes as an outcome of Activity 6 of the POSEIDON MED (COSTA II), the LNG bunkering initiative supported by fellow EU countries in the Eastern Mediterranean and Adriatic Sea and delivered by top experts in Marine, Energy and Finance sectors. The POSEIDON MED has the ultimate objective to prepare in detail a global solution of infrastructure development in the Mediterranean area so that LNG can be embraced as the marine fuel of the future, thus making shipping more efficient and sustainable.