‘You cannot create an environmental paradise on an economic graveyard’: Ioanna Procopiou

Once again regulators were on the receiving end of an earful at a shipping conference yesterday with shipowners increasingly irate at their inability to be able to order new ships for fear they’ll be obsolete with environmental rules chopping and changing.

The most memorable quotes at yesterday’s Capital Link Greek Shipping Forum came from Ioanna Procopiou, chief executive at Prominence Maritime, an event that saw her father, George Procopiou from Dynacom, handed a Greek shipping leadership award from Adonis Georgiadis, the country’s minister of development and investments.

“You cannot create an environmental paradise on an economic graveyard,” Ioanna Procopiou said, going on to say: “We are constantly compelled to alter our vessels. It is hard when the rules of the game keep changing while the game is being played. Shipping is already a sector with high risks. The shipping industry is forced to change its fuel, although it is not the one that produces the ships, unlike in the automotive and airplane industry.”

Many in the room agreed, concerned that while the markers had been laid down by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to slash the industry’s carbon footprint by 2050, the actual way to carry out this transformation remained unclear with not enough guidance from regulators.

“There is a lot of insecurity in the market,” said Andreas Hadjipetrou, managing director at Cyprus-based Columbia Shipmanagement: “We know the target, but not the conditions for the next 30 years.”

Jeffrey Pribor, chief financial officer at New York-based International Seaways, also joined the rallying call to get regulators to give greater direction towards the 2050 goals.

Cooperation across the industry will be vital, argued Claire Wright, a manager at Shell International Trading and Shipping Company, who told delegates: “We need cooperation, we need support from the regulators, and we need significant technological development.”

Shipowners lashing out at regulatory intransigence has been a common sight on the international maritime event circuit of late.

John Michael Radziwill, CEO of GoodBulk, speaking in Monaco at the Maritime CEO Forum last October, laid the blame for the current uncertainty squarely on the shoulders of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

“It seems that common sense is in short supply in this industry especially among the regulatory bodies,” Radziwill said.

Speaking on the same panel, Danilo Fumarola, CEO of Gestion Maritime, told invited guests: “We need more defined rules and timetables.” Fumarola cited the decision to postpone ballast water regulations as an example of regulatory intransigence.

“There should be clearness, correct timetables but also lobbying to make sure that the regulations go the right way,” he said.

At the same event held at the Monaco Yacht Club, Emanuele Lauro, the CEO of Scorpio Group, said, “The regulators have done a particularly bad job in imposing regulations on our industry. When regulators are imposing rules that they don’t have the full picture about, you then get into the situation like the scrubber shenanigans.”

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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