Hampton Roads: The issue of escalating lube prices is one that will continue to vex shipowners for years to come unless a radical solution is made available. One lube veteran, Dr Klaus-Werner Damm, reckons he has found the technology and middle ground to keep owners and suppliers happy.
Damm founded InnoTech in the US a year ago. His previous career was varied starting off teaching, being a geoscientist and involved in mining before he got involved in lubricants. Around ten years ago Damm became AP Moller-Maersk’s general manager for lube procurement globally. While there he was involved in the Danish owner’s revolutionary move to start lube blending onboard. After that he worked with suppliers Gulf Oil Marine and Chemoil before setting up by himself.
With the big oil majors primarily interested in upstream not downstream, the shipping industry has faced a lubes crisis, Damm explains.
Services have been pulled back as has the availability of products, particularly in the Caribbean, Africa and Latin America.
“The majors, with the exception of Castrol, are not to keen to get in the maritime market,” Damm says.
“I am basically trying to bring people together, looking at technologies,” he says. Among his ideas to make lubes more accessible is in developing localized microblending, a technology he has created called InnoFlex. Such technology could be hugely beneficial in places such as Brazil, a market dominated by Petrobras, which has just one blending site in the whole country.
“I am trying to bring OEMs, additive companies and regional bodies together with the end users to overcome the shortcomings of the maritime industry,” Damm says.
“There is a huge gap here and there is more and more complexity and more and more confusion,” Damm reckons.
“My goal is to reduce the cost of the maritime lubricants without reducing service or global footprint,” he says, adding: “The problem is to ultimately convince a very conservative set of customers.” [16/12/13]