The roro sector is a small part of the entire shipping sector, but it is a shipping sector with an optimistic point of view, at least that was the feeling during a seminar arranged by Lighthouse and the Maritime Cluster of West Sweden.
Christopher Pålsson, Lloyd’s List Intelligence, made a trend analysis of the roro sector and said that roro has better prospects than for a long time. This despite the fact that container shipping has higher growth and is working its way into the roro market. But while container shipping is growing in terms of demand and tonnage, the sector has problems with low prices and modest profitability.
Roro shipping has a fleet that is reasonably balanced, said Christopher Pålsson, and the fleet is slowly seeing a rejuvenation.
The seminar gathered about 90 participants, many of them from industry. Among the speakers were researchers, ship owners, shipping companies, ports, institutes and classification society.
Longer and heavier loads
Both Henrik Lindal from Kühne + Nagel and Johan Johansson from Transport & Logistics Shipping company highlighted the ability of roro vessels to transport the load below deck as a major advantage. And compared to container vessels, roro vessels can carry both longer and heavier loads.
– Many goods owners require below deck guarantees. You use roro when the load is valuable and Swedish export goods are often valuable, says Johan Johansson.
Ragnar Johansson, CEO of Svenska Orient Linien, noted in his presentation that strong consolidation takes place in the roro market. The big players get bigger, small and medium enterprises become fewer. The Caribbean as a market for roro is largely gone and has been taken over by container traffic. More than 80% of all short sea roro is found in northern Europe and the Mediterranean.
There is a lack of roro tonnage, says Ragnar Johansson and new vessels are ordered as never before. A challenge for the sector is to reach a better environmental performance. Today roro transports too much air.
“But roro is still better than road transport,” says Ragnar Johansson.
Political incentives needed
Roro is also a more expensive option and when transport buyers choose transport, it is primarily the price that matters says Linda Styhre, IVL. IVL, Chalmers and Gothenburg University have since year 2012 asked transport buyers what guides their choice of transport and for 50% of respondents, the price is crucial.
Companies have also been asked what factors would increase the use of short sea shipping in Europe. The biggest impact is thought to be: higher taxes on, for example CO2, more legislation and regulations. Thereafter, bunker prices, better infrastructure in ports and waterways are believed to increase the use of short sea shipping.
Linda Styhre believes it is important that transport buyers demand sustainable transport. However, the buyers follow existing laws and regulations and therefore political incentives and decisions are required for a change to take place.
Emission free by 2040?
Carl Fagerberg at Wallenius says that it is fully possible to build emission-free ships already today. The question is about how the ships are to be operated and become a part of the transport system. Wind power can be an emission-free alternative, with 8000 square meters of sails and assisting engines, a vessels energy consumption could be as low as 10% of a vessels current energy consumption
“We hope our customers will follow us and that we can reach emission free vessels by 2040,” says Carl Fagergren.
The seminar also had presentations from Gothenburg university, Port of Trelleborg, SSPA, RISE Viktoria, DNV GL and the Swedish Maritime Administration. The seminar (in Swedish) can be seen below.