PROTOTYPE voyages of bulk carriers employing the so-called Blue Visby Solution have produced considerable savings in CO2 emissions and confirmed theoretical and pilot trial calculations.

The BVS, which has been developed by a British/Finnish–led group known as the Blue Visby Consortium, involves a complete re-think of the traditional ‘Sail fast, then wait” approach to tramp voyages by deploying software to anticipate voyage variables and optimise ocean passages.

The Consortium has more than 30 members, including three from Australia: Port Authority of NSW, Port of Newcastle and WA’s CBH Group.

It was the latter that participated in the first of the Blue Visby Prototype Trials in March/April 2024 when the bulk carriers Gerdt Oldendorff and Begonia, under voyage charter to grain marketer and handler CBH Group, performed ballast voyages to the Kwinana Grain Terminal.

The trials resulted in CO2 savings of 28.2% for Gerdt Oldendorff and 12.9% on Begonia, meaning on average 17.3%, measured against the vessels’ respective service speeds of 14 knots. In the case of Gerdt Oldendorff, the trial resulted in CO2 savings of 7.9% measured against the vessel’s intended voyage speed of 12 knots. If the vessel was required to speed up to 14 knots for example to meet a laycan then the potential CO2 savings would have been 28.2%, BVC says.

A number of alternative benchmarks were tested in this regard involving speed, RPM, laycan dates and “Business As Usual” assumptions. The parties also had a choice as to whether to calculate the financial value of fuel savings and of the prolongation of the ocean passage by using contract rates or market rates provided by the Baltic Exchanges (also a BVC member). The parties reached commercial agreement as to the applicable benchmark for the purposes of the benefit-sharing mechanism.

The level of CO2 savings in the CBH trials was consistent with studies that had been conducted previously: (a) during the Pilot Program in 2023, during which ten voyages produced an average of potential CO2 savings of 18.9%;  and (b)  in a series of hindcast simulations of 284 voyages in November 2021-August 2023, which had produced potential CO2 savings of 25.6% on average, BVC says.

In the course of these prototype trials, all components of the BVS were deployed and subjected to rigorous testing: software, technical and operational system, as well as the benefit-sharing mechanism.

It was also demonstrated that the BVS does not interfere with weather routing, voyage planning or the timing of berthing – all of which were left in the hands of the participants. Indeed, the robustness of the operational side of the BVS prevented disruption of the prototype trial during a time when one of the vessels needed to deviate, BVC says.

“The accumulating evidence demonstrates that the systemic optimisation of the ocean passage can deliver substantial reductions in emissions, in a way that is compatible with the commercial and contractual structure of bulk maritime trade, and without causing disruption, as the Blue Visby Solution does not interfere with voyage planning or with cargo operations,” BVC said.

“The BVS requires no CAPEX, is compatible with any other measure for reducing emissions, while its unique benefit sharing mechanism removes the obstacle of split incentives and can create financial benefits for all participants.”