CYPRUS, Monday October 9, 2023: Monday marked the opening of the internationally renowned “Maritime Cyprus 2023” Conference at the Parklane Resort & Spa in Limassol. Organized in partnership by the Shipping Deputy Ministry of the Republic of Cyprus, the Cyprus Shipping Chamber and the Cyprus Union of Shipowners, this year’s conference is themed Shipping in Action: An Agenda for Change.

More than 900 shipping professionals from around the world, originating from more than 35 countries, attended the Conference, organized biennially in Cyprus.

Dr. Stelios Himonas, Chair of the Conference and Permanent Secretary of the Shipping Deputy Ministry, delivered a welcome address to today’s conference participants. The Chair of the Conference highlighted the importance of the event, which provides a forum for discussions on critical challenges faced by the international shipping industry, and thanked the co-organisers, sponsors, speakers and participants for their contribution and presence, particularly the significant number of the participants who travelled from abroad to attend.

The President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Nikos Christodoulides, after opening the Maritime Services Exhibition organized within the framework of the Conference, delivered the opening address. The President emphasized that the shipping sector requires fast reaction and effective response to crises and challenges, innovative planning, adaptability, and a proactive mindset. The President referred to Cyprus’ response to the current crisis in Ukraine and to the fact that maritime transport should be given due attention and a prominent position within the EU. The President also referred to the contribution of Cyprus to the transition of shipping to a low or even zero carbon industry, the process of digitalizing the Shipping Deputy Ministry’s internal processes, the creation of a one-stop-shipping center, and the implementation of the Shipping Limited Liability Company Law. The President finally highlighted that Cyprus promotes maritime professions and gender equality in shipping.

Following the President’s speech, Mr Kitack Lim, Secretary General, International Maritime Organization and Ms Adina Valean, EU Transport Commissioner gave their opening addresses. Mr Kitack Lim acknowledged the progress the shipping industry has made so far, going on to emphasize the importance of continuing to address existing and incoming challenges. He also highlighted the value of the Maritime Cyprus Conference in offering a platform for collaboration among all maritime stakeholders. Marking his final attendance of the Maritime Cyprus Conference as IMO Secretary General, he concluded that it is imperative that rules and regulations for shipping are amended and implemented globally by the maritime community. Ms Adina Valean referred to the many opportunities for shipping that are on the horizon, stressing the importance of flexibility in driving the development of green fuels, and the adoption of energy efficiency technologies. “Throughout this process, we must look beyond Europe’s shores to enact changes globally,” she concluded.

The first panel discussion was a “Shipping Policy Dialogue”, which took place between Ms Marina Hadjimanolis, Shipping Deputy Minister to the President and Mr Arsenio Dominguez, Director of Marine Environment Division and Secretary-General Elect, International Maritime Organization. Ms Marina Hadjimanolis questioned Mr Dominguez about the IMO’s vision, outcomes of MEPC 80 and adoption of the IMO’s Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships, ship recycling, shipping’s image, and gender equality. Mr. Arsenio Dominguez stressed how crucial it was to increase the presence of women in the industry, through encouraging female participation in maritime studies, and continuing to campaign for gender equality at IMO level and beyond. “This includes actively working to increase the number of women in senior positions at the IMO,” he said.

The second panel discussion, Sustainable Shipping towards 2050: a Mission (Im)Possible?”, was moderated by Mr Themis Papadopoulos, CSC President/CEO of Interorient Navigation Co Ltd. The panel included Mr Emanuele Grimaldi, ICS Chairman/President & MD of Grimaldi Euromed SpA, Mr Philippos Philis, ECSA President/Chairman & CEO of Lemissoler Navigation Ltd, Dr Gaby Bornheim, President of German Shipowners’ Association (VDR) and Mr Nikolaus H. Schües, President of BIMCO. The panel called for clarity on policy, with Mr Themis Papadopoulos suggesting the development of a global, rather than local, set of regulations. “The IMO must develop a new system, instead of requiring members of the shipping industry to comply with multiple sets of legislation, which complicates the industry’s journey towards decarbonization,” he said. Echoing these thoughts, Dr Gaby Bornheim said “we need to, as an industry, be fully aligned – and this includes fuel suppliers. New rules must be internationalized – we need a clear, global framework to proceed with achieving net zero by 2050. One that extends further than the EU.” Mr Emanuele Grimaldi called for a “fund & reward system” to support early adopters of newer, more expensive fuels in shipping. Mr Nikolaus H. Schües encouraged delegates to see shipping’s challenges from a more positive perspective – especially considering the plethora of new fuels in development, combined with the energy efficiency technologies currently available. During the Q&A at the end of the session, an audience member asked about the possibilities of utilizing nuclear energy to power ships. “Very bluntly,” said Dr Gaby Bornheim, “there should be no prohibited thoughts. It’s one idea, but it may not be realistic that the industry will go in this direction”. She concluded that while shipping must consider the technology, realistically, she doesn’t think it will become a reality.

The third panel, The Shipowners’ perspective on the future of EU shipping was moderated by Mr George Mouskas, Vice President of the Cyprus Union of Shipowners. The panel included Mr Andreas Hadjiyiannis, President of the Cyprus Union of Shipowners, Mr George Procopiou, Chairman of Dynacom Tankers Management Ltd, Mr Thanassis Martinos, Managing Director of Eastern Mediterranean Maritime Ltd and Ms Suzanna Laskaridis, Director of Laskaridis Shipping Company Ltd. Discussion centered around the EU ETS and other regional regulations, and how these policies affect members of the European fleet. Ms Suzanna Laskaridis urged regulators to develop policies that, while driving the industry towards sustainability goals, do not drive vessels or shipping companies to move operations to more preferable locations. “There are benefits to a more self-sufficient fleet, and policy must be written with this in mind,” she said. Mr George Procopiou criticized the EU ETS scheme, saying that “Europe is shooting itself in the foot”, claiming that the industry would be better off focusing on energy efficiency measures, rather than hindering growth through restrictive policies. An audience member questioned the shipowner response to COVID-19 and the pandemic’s impact on the livelihoods of seafarers. Panelists acknowledged that, collectively, the industry’s response was not good enough, and that the level to which these keyworkers were let down has still not yet been recognized.

The first day of 2023’s Maritime Cyprus Conference was preceded by an Opening Reception held yesterday (Sunday 08 October 2023) at the Amathus Beach Hotel, Limassol where the “Cyprus Maritime Award 2023” was presented in recognition of the contribution of individuals or companies to the development of Cyprus Shipping. The “Cyprus Maritime Personality Award” was bestowed to Mr George Procopiou, Chairman of Dynacom Tankers Management Ltd, in recognition of his substantial contribution to the shipping industry, which spans over 50 years, having purchased his first ship in 1971.

Highlights from day two of the Conference addressing the sustainability of shipping and the future of EU shipping.

CYPRUS, Tuesday October 10, 2023: The second day of the “Maritime Cyprus 2023” Conference took place at the Parklane Resort & Spa in Limassol on Tuesday. Themed Shipping in Action: An Agenda for Change, more than 900 shipping professionals from around the world, originating from more than 35 countries, attended the Conference, organized biennially in Cyprus. Panel discussions and a keynote presentation saw industry experts unpacking issues concerning the energy transition, the transformation of the industry as it continues its path towards decarbonization and the role that shipbuilding plays in the shifting context of the shipping industry.

The first panel discussion, titled “Challenge Accepted: Energy Transition – Where do we Stand?”, was moderated by Ms Manuela Tomassini, Head of Sustainability and Technical Assistance, EMSA, and featured Ms Semiramis Paliou, CEO, Diana Shipping Inc, Mr Jan Dieleman, President, Cargill Ocean Transportation/Cargill International SA, Mr Sebastien Landerretche, Head, Freight Platform, Louis Dreyfus Company, and Mr Roel Hoenders, Head of Climate Action and Clean Air, International Maritime Organization (IMO).

“We must be open minded when discussing the energy transition,” said Ms Manuela Tomassini, opening the discussion. “Energy efficiency is a priority, as are alternative fuels. Most important, though, is filling the knowledge gap, and focusing on supporting investment in the industry to drive us towards our energy transition goals. Adaptability, flexibility, taking full advantage of opportunities, positivity, cooperation, and collaboration will all be crucial to success,” she said, before posing questions to the panel. Mr Roel Hoenders, speaking from the perspective of the IMO, said the organization echoed challenges mentioned yesterday, during the first day of the Conference. He highlighted that focus needs to be put on fuel availability and pricing, as well as the important element of creating energy transition opportunities across the maritime industry. He also acknowledged how the concept of net zero needs to be further defined, and that this will be on the IMO’s agenda moving forward. Ms Semiramis Paliou emphasized the role of seafarers in the energy transition, stressing the importance of increasing the attractiveness of the industry to ensure the resilience and diversity of the next generation of the workforce. She also noted how shipowners need to be incentivized through the energy transition process – “We’re taking risks to move the industry forward. While moving in the right direction, currently available technology is not necessarily optimal.” Commenting on progress made so far, Mr Jan Dieleman said that outcomes of MEPC 80 were positive, but that it was now time to convert discussion into action. “It’s time to raise the bar and move away from our reliance on first movers in the industry. Zero carbon fuels offer huge opportunities in the wider supply chain – let’s take advantage of that,” he said. Mr Sebastien Landerretche noted how shipowners’ relationship with the supply chain must be converted from transactional in nature, to strategic. “We need to develop our understanding of technology and increase collaboration with best-in-class owners to boost progress across the board. Bringing energy players into the value chain will also be crucial,” he concluded.

Following the panel discussion, Ms. Anne Katrine Bjerregaard, Head of Strategy, Sustainability and ESG, Mærsk Mckinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping took stage with a keynote presentation titled, “The time to act is now – radically transforming an industry by 2050.” Ms. Bjerregaard outlined the worrying progression of climate change, and how we’ve been “living well beyond the nine planetary boundaries” for a while now. “The decisions made at MEPC 80 indicate that we are moving in the right direction. As we press ahead, we must do everything possible to install the maximum amount of energy efficiency technologies throughout the global fleet, if we are to meet minimum climate goals. This requires, too, the installation of carbon capture systems on at least 30% of the fleet,” she remarked. Echoing the thoughts of previous panels, her presentation reiterated the importance of increasing the attractiveness of the industry to talent through robust ESG policies. “Doing good does good for commercial success, and attracting the right people,” she said. On alternative fuels, she commented on the range of fuels in development, emphasizing how it was imperative that shipping creates a significant demand signal for fuels being considered, as other industries begin vying for the same fuels. She explained that regulators, investors, and customers are and will continue to demand change. “The scope of sustainability is widening in shipping, and we are running out of time: transformative action is required. is your company going to be part of this, how you are you going to contribute to the scaling of sustainable fuels?”

The second panel discussion, The Role of Shipbuilding in an Evolving Shipping Industry”, was moderated by Mr Nick Brown, IACS Chairman, CEO, Lloyd’s Register, and included Mr Konstantinos Stampedakis, Co-Founder & MD, ERMA FIRST, Mr Polys V. Hajioannou, CEO & Chairman, Safe Bulkers, Inc, Mr Chris-Alexander Korfiatis, Vice President, Marine Operations, Royal Caribbean, Mr Mark O’Neil, President, InterManager, Mr Kenneth Tveter, Head of Green Transition, Clarksons, and Mr Stephanos E. Angelakos, CEO, Angelakos (Hellas) S.A. The discussion focused on how shipbuilding is transforming to align with new expectations from customers, which are resulting from existing and incoming regulations. This, complicated by issues relating to undefined climate goals, lack of alternative fuel availability, and the need for additional investment in new technologies.

Mark O’Neil pointed to the global social, governmental, and political factors currently influencing the decarbonization of all industries, and urged a more realistic and pragmatic approach to the decarbonization challenges faced by shipping. “Shipyards facing a level of uncertainty when it comes to the rationale behind building the carbon neutral vessels of the future,” he said, suggesting that focus and funding is shifted more towards company shareholders and voters – who he believes will be the true drivers of global change. Highlighting the increased visibility of the cruise sector compared to other areas of shipping, Mr Chris-Alexander Korfiatis said decisions around newbuilds were dependent on the needs of customers. “With each order, we build ships that are 20-25% more efficient than those delivered previously, using whatever technology is available at the time.” He explained that the strategy places strong emphasis retrofitting, ensuring vessels can be adapted to align with fuels and technologies of the future, which today are still under consideration. Mr Konstantinos Stampedakis thanked the Cyprus Shipping Deputy Ministry for organizing the Conference – “Anyone can organize an event, but creating an atmosphere that fosters open and productive discussion is something that the industry has been missing.” He went on to champion carbon capture and retrofitting as a necessity, suggesting that “updating the existing fleet might be a better green solution in the short term. To support shipping, we must encourage the retrofitting of existing technologies – and continue its development.” Mr Polys Hadjioannou offered encouragement, sharing his optimism around Fuel EU Maritime, which he believes will drive momentum in the transformation of shipbuilding. Commenting as a member of the cruise sector, Mr Chris-Alexander Korfiatis emphasized the importance of maintaining seafarer and cruise passenger safety as shipbuilding develops to align with incoming technologies, regulations & climate goals. Adding to conversation around seafarers, Mark O’Neil warned that the crewing market will be further segmented as the industry trains different groups to handle and operate various vessel types using different alternative fuels. “We’ll need to pay higher salaries to keep these trained personnel on the same vessel types, to decrease ongoing recruitment costs” he said.

Taking place during the afternoon on the second day of the Conference, the Young Executives Session, offered an interactive, capacity-building and problem-solving session for shipping executives under the age of 40. This session was organized in collaboration with Young Ship Cyprus and WISTA Cyprus for young shipping professionals.

Within the framework of creating the necessary environment for young people to be included in, and inspired by, maritime affairs, seek jobs within the industry and provide them with future career development, the session is a forum for young shipping professionals to debate career-related shipping issues and discuss their vision of the industry, opportunities and challenges that stimulate and affect them.

Highlights from day three of the Conference addressing the future trends and emerging markets, ship finance, maritime technology/safety, and the latest developments and dynamics in the cruising sector

CYPRUS, Wednesday, October 11, 2023: Wednesday saw the third and final day of the “Maritime Cyprus 2023” Conference taking place at the Parklane Resort & Spa in Limassol. Themed Shipping in Action: An Agenda for Change, more than 900 shipping professionals from around the world, originating from more than 35 countries, attended the Conference, organized biennially in Cyprus. Panel discussions and a presentation explored how future trends and emerging markets are impacting shipping, the complexities of ship finance within the context of shipping’s current challenges, maritime technology and how it can improve safety at sea, and the shifting dynamics of cruising.

The opening presentation on day three “Exploring Future Trends and emerging markets for a dynamic and resilient shipping industry” was made by Mr Ben Nolan, Managing Director, Maritime, Rail, & Energy Infrastructure at Stifel. Discussing major factors currently impacting shipping, he explored populism, reshoring, the energy transition/decarbonization, evolving demographics and population centers, and higher interest rates/inflation.

He explained that the world was entering another era of cyclical populism – noting how countries are becoming more insular, thus affecting ocean transportation. “Reshoring is becoming a major trend – for example, technology companies are moving manufacturing processes back to North America,” he said. On the energy transition, he observed how capital spending driving decarbonization was at an all-time high, with investment in clean electrification having increased substantially. Encouraging a more realistic perspective, he highlighted how “Anecdotally, there is a growing realization that decarbonization goals are going to be difficult to attain. And that is especially true in an environment where collaboration is lacking.” He called for an increased level of ‘energy realism’ – “We have a long way to go, and the idea that all of this can happen quickly is farcical. It’s noble and I certainly agree that we should be doing it, but the idea that it’s going to happen overnight is not realistic.”

The first panel discussion, titled “Navigating the Seas of Capital: Exploring Ship Finance”, was moderated by Mr Ben Nolan, Managing Director, Maritime, Rail, & Energy Infrastructure at Stifel, and featured Mr Christos Tsakonas, Global Head of Shipping, DNB Bank ASAMr Mark Friedman Senior Managing Director, EvercoreMr Erik Helberg, CEO, Clarksons SecuritiesMs Nicole Mylona, CEO, Transmed Shipping Co. LtdMr Harry N. Vafias, CΕΟ & Founder, StealthGas Inc., and  Mr Atef Abou Merhi, Managing Director, Pelagic Partners. Discussion centered around the challenges faced by shipping when it comes to financing growth within the context of an uncertain future fuels landscape, geopolitical factors, and the pace of technological development.

“Investing across the cycles is challenging as it’s volatile,” said Mr Erik Helberg. “But we’re optimistic due to the supply side. At the right time, there are phenomenal returns to be made.” Supporting this, Ms Nicole Mylona said: “There is capital available for projects with good companies have proven track records with healthy balance sheets, and good, solid cash flow.” Conversation turned to the administrative burden that smaller shipping companies are facing to comply with the multitude of incoming regulations, noting that while the operating environment makes it hard for new players to enter the market, it is also increasingly difficult for smaller companies to survive.  “It is likely we will see further consolidation,” Mr Erik Helberg continued, “If you can find a differentiator then there is still room for smaller companies, but it is more challenging than it used to be.” Mr Atef Abou Merhi noted how small companies are the cornerstone and backbone of shipping and will stay. “But there is more focus now on pools, for example, where we see consolidation on the commercial side. And smaller companies increasingly need support from ship managers,” he concluded. Mr Harry N. Vafias believes that owners with two to five vessels, often in dry bulk, will continue to win against the bigger players as the balance sheet is the most important element, with low leverage and a focus on OPEX. As conversation turned to competitiveness in shipping, Ms Nicole Mylona said: “We need competition – it’s what keeps us on our toes. If there are only a few large organizations controlling trade, this will impact safety, costs, everything.”

The second panel discussion, titled “The future seas: advancing maritime technology for enhanced safety”, was moderated by Ms Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou, Joint CEO, Tototheo Maritime, and featured Mr Peter Broadhurst, Senior Vice President Safety and Regulatory, Inmarsat Maritime, Capt. Piotr Rusinek, Master Mariner, DPA and Fleet Marine Superintendent, Intership Navigation, and Mr Erwin Derlagen, COO at ENESEL Limited. Conversation focused on how digitalization is ushering in the adoption of highly sophisticated technological advancements, designed to assist seafarers in the duties, and how – because of these technologies – potential impacts on jobs within the industry have become apparent. The panel engaged in a debate about the direction of change, reflecting on the path shipping has taken as an industry, the invaluable lessons learned, and the crucial questions and opportunities that lie ahead.

“The reality is, we do live in a connected world. The upcoming seafarers are used to that level of connectivity, and so we must embrace it – and use it to improve the safety of shipping,” said Mr Peter Broadhurst. Mr Erwin Derlagen highlighted the importance of training, citing the value of well-produced video content that can be delivered to and consumed by seafarers on vessels. “We really must change the culture around how we train our crews on board. We must distance ourselves from the old-fashioned style of training, where we simply tell people what to do and how to look at things. Instead, we need to listen to crew when they tell us where their shortcomings are and adjust our training strategy accordingly.” Ms Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou noted how the term ‘disruption’ has been replaced by ‘transition’ since the advent of the pandemic, marking a shift in focus to an internal drive for change, rather than external disruptive forces. The value of data was stressed by Mr Peter Broadhurst: “I don’t think we should restrict ourselves – there is more that can be done with this technology, even if that means the technology is monetized by other companies.” Mr Erwin Derlagen stressed that there were two important elements coming into shore-based decision making – “technology and the data made available by it, and crew, who remain the eyes and ears onboard vessels, offering uniquely human perspectives of onboard challenges.”

The third and final panel discussion of the day titled, “Cruising Ahead: Exploring Current Developments and Dynamics in the industry,” was moderated by Mr Joost van Ree, Group Director Cruise & Yachts, Ocean Technologies Group, and featured   Mr Bert Hernandez, Senior Vice President – International, Royal Caribbean International, Ms Maria Deligianni, National Director, Eastern Mediterranean, Cruise Lines International Association, Mr Vincenzo Galati, Director, Corporate Marine Technology, Carnival Corporation & PLC, and Mr Norbert Stiekema, CCO, Explora Journeys.

The panel discussed the complexities of the cruise sector, and how dynamics are changing as the shipping sector transitions towards sustainability. “We are very visible,” said Mr Joost van Ree. “Because of this, the cruise industry is always an early adopter of new technology.” Expanding on the cruise industry’s visibility in European cities, the example was made of Amsterdam’s efforts to reduce over tourism by banning large cruise ships from the city center. Commenting from an ESG perspective, Ms Maria Deligianni shared how the company not only continues to pursue substantial decreases in emissions from vessel propulsion systems, but also prioritizes sustainable activity at cruising destinations the company operates in. Asked about his views on the future of the cruise sector, Mr Bert Hernandez explained how the destination is the primary determinant of how people choose their vacation. “Destination is key. It’s therefore critical that our ships have access to these destinations, and this can only be secured through ongoing engagement with local communities.” It was agreed that local offices and partnerships help address infrastructure needs and foster long-term growth for cruising. Concluding on a positive note, Mr Bert Hernandez explained how Cyprus played a leading role at the beginning of the pandemic in helping crew members get home. “This tiny nation really was the catalyst for allowing the cruise industry restart.”

MARITIME ECONOMIES had the honor to be Media sponsor of Maritime Cyprus 2023 conference and was represented by Mr Politis Dionisios Publisher of the newspaper and Mrs Efie Kollia Editor n’ chief.