The green revolution at sea drives ship repair and supply services

Mid Atlantic Ship Repair and Supply Summit brings together 300 professionals and international experts in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to take the pulse of innovation in the maritime industry

Léalo en Español.

The global economic crisis of the last decade is overcome in the maritime industry. The ship repair business grew by 5% in 2017 in Spain, according to data released by Pymar, the lobby of small and medium-sized shipyards. More than a thousand repairs are carried out a year in Spanish shipyards, and the average invoice for each repair increased by an average of 10% in 2017. The transition to cleaner and more efficient navigation technologies, the transformation of offshore units and the development of Marine wind farms will set the trend for the sector in the next decade, according to the OECD.

New construction contracts are increasing in the world. This means more maintenance and more supplies in the medium and long term. In 2017, 1,500 orders were signed (70% more), equivalent to 23.5 million CGT (Gross Compensated Tonnage, the unit of measurement for shipyard production). Passenger ships, bulk carriers and container ships are boosting demand, although orders for offshore vessels begin to recover after a few years of market saturation. China leads world shipbuilding, with almost 1,500 vessels and 29.5 million CGT in its order book, followed by South Korea and Japan.

The number of shipyards in the world with activity –that is, with at least one ship in the portfolio– is, by the end of 2017, around 700, of which 399 are in Asia (150 in China, 83 in Japan and 19 in Korea), 228 in Europe (67.5%, in EU countries), 62 in America, 11 in Africa and 3 in Oceania.

They are good times for naval repair and supply. From the conjuncture of the maritime industry in these two segments, the challenges and opportunities, will be discussed at the Mid Atlantic Ship Repair & Supply Summit (Summit of the Middle Atlantic on Repair and Naval Supply), which is being held these coming 4 and 5 April 2019 in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The president of Puertos de Las Palmas, Juan José Cardona, the manager of the Port of Las Palmas Foundation, Sergio Galván, the deputy minister of Industry, Energy and Commerce of the Canary Islands Government, Gonzalo Piernavieja, and the president of Femepa, the local organization of entrepreneurs of the sector, Vicente Marrero, have explained in a press conference the context and objectives of an event that has financial support from the European Union through the Interreg Interport project.

The Summit wants to offer the international port community «a appointment required» every two years, in which to exchange experiences, make contacts and business in the sector of services to ships, said the president of the Port Authority, Juan José Cardona. The Port of Las Palmas Foundation added that the Mid Atlantic Ship Repair & Supply Summit «aims to become the global epicenter of the exchange of knowledge and talent in matters of ship repairs and supply to ships.» About 300 professionals and experts from the maritime industry will meet to exchange «cutting-edge experiences» of technological innovation and business development. They come from Europe, Africa and America, and the meeting will allow them to «promote B2B meetings, real highway to seize opportunities» to cooperate.

Supplies: a business of 50,000 million

The situation of the Canary Islands in the world markets of repairs and supplies to ships is that of a strategic port in the mid-Atlantic. The Canary Islands dry docks –specifically, those of the Port of La Luz and Las Palmas– stand out in the repair of offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction units. According to Pymar, works on platforms rebounded in 2017 and represent 3.9% of total repairs. «An important number» of these works is carried out in Canarian shipyards, «and that is that the location of the Archipelago, together with its recognized experience in this market, makes them logistic centers of first level for the realization» of repairs in offshore units, according to Pymar in its last annual report.

Another indicator of the strength of the port industry in this international scale in one of the EU nine outermost regions are the supplies: only in water and fuel, the Canarian ports of the State served in 2017 3.4 million tons, and the volume has been growing, at least, for three years, according to data published by the Port Authorities. The introduction of cleaner energy sources on board, such as LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas), is a trend in the sector, and will be a subject of discussion at the Summit on Marine Repair and Supply in the Mid-Atlantic. The portfolio of ship supply in the European Union totals 52,458 million euros of business, according to data from the European Commission in 2013.

55.9% of the maintenance and repair works carried out in 2017 in Spain were orders from foreign companies. And of all foreign clients, 52.8% came from EU countries; 16.4%, from other European countries; 15.4%, from American countries; 8.7% from Asian countries and the remaining 6.7% from customers from Africa and Oceania. The competition for the Spanish maintenance shipyards is, above all, in the Baltic States and Turkey. In the Mid-Atlantic shipping routes, the Canary Islands is the most competitive technical scale, due to its high technological training and the qualification of the repair personnel.

The OECD estimates that the potential of the maritime industry will hatch in the next ten years. Among the segments that will grow the most, the institution includes the development of offshore wind farms and the transformation of oil and gas platforms. By 2030, offshore wind farms will generate a global business of 200,000 million euros and some 435,000 full-time jobs. Thousands of oil rigs will go to scrap or will be transformed in the coming decades. A whole industry of billions of euros will flourish around its recycling. Within the framework of the Mid Atlantic Ship Repair and Supply Summit, there will be an international meeting on April 5 on new trends in marine renewable energy.

In its report Rethinking Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, published in February in Paris, the OECD consulted Plocan, the public ocean R & D consortium based in the outermost region of the Canary Islands. One of its conclusions is that innovation-intensive businesses such as construction, repair and transformation of ships will grow by developing cleaner and more environmentally friendly technologies. Organizing innovation in transnational cooperation networks is one of the strategies recommended by the OECD. The international summit on ship repair and supply to ships that will take place in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on April 4 and 5, 2019 will be aligned with this trend.

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