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Hamburg Bulk Carriers: Sulphur ruling coming in too fast

Captain Stefan Bülow finds himself in an awkward situation when meeting up with Maritime CEO towards the end of October in Copenhagen.

The managing partner of avowedly green Hamburg Bulk Carriers (HBC) is not in favour of a sulphur cap coming in too soon, something that is being deliberated while we meet in the Danish capital. In the end the folk discussing the matter at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) rule in favour of a 0.5% sulphur cap to come in favour worldwide by 2020.

Bülow, responsible for building some of the world’s greenest bulk carriers, is worried that regulators are rushing into decisions without thinking things through properly.

“Regulations should be done slowly – look at how many mistakes were made with MARPOL,” he says, adding: “If things are pushed too fast and are not correct things get difficult.”

Bülow’s claims there is not sufficient data today to set a sulphur target.

“We have to be very careful, we have to be balanced and not look like clowns in the future,” he warns.

Bülow spent 12 years as a seafarer, rising to master, before coming ashore in 2001. Prior to HBC in 2014, he has held many top positions including managing partner at Ernst Russ, and managing director at Deutsche Afrika-Linien.

At HBC, Bülow looks after 40 handy bulkers including 10 newbuilds – the so called HBC43 series that can lay claim to being among the greenest bulkers ever conceived. The radical approach to bulk carrier design offers a potential of up to 30% CO2/GHG reduction due to higher energy efficiency with vetting agency RightShip stating that “they are in about the top 2-3% of ships in this size range”. Bülow’s company’s green credentials were burnished last year when HBC was the only shipping company invited to a big environmental gathering with the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates there as attendees.

Bülow says he wants to see green incentives for recycling to get rid of old tonnage.

“The priority,” he says, “should be to get rid of old tonnage.”


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  1. To have all parties concerned in one boat is the chalange when dealing with new rules/aims, isn’t it?
    Here: The suitable, sufficient energy supply in all/necessary ports to avoid basic harmful substances for the envirement (not only sulphur but as well CO2!).
    E.g. There is the dust around my head thinking of the electricity connection on shore for cruise vessels in Hamburg … §:-)
    Let’s all try to improve!

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