DNV GL: New fuels demand new approach to safety

The new fuels that the shipping industry is banking on to meet the challenge of decarbonisation are also creating ‘a new risk landscape and demanding a new approach to safety’, according to a white paper from DNV GL.

While the paper supports the maritime industry’s ‘rapid transition to a decarbonised, digitally smart future’, it warns that there is ‘a looming “safety gap” between shipping’s existing approach to safety risks and its ambitions for greater digitalisation and the adoption of alternative fuels’.

In order to avert this situation, the white paper offers a ‘new safety paradigm’ which it says will help the industry become ‘not only more efficient and sustainable – but safer as well’.

‘To close the safety gap, we will need a collective, ongoing effort,’ said Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of DNV GL – Maritime. ‘As a class society, we can play a leading role by acting as trailblazers for regulators, gathering expertise, partnering with industry and developing guidelines. Suppliers, owners, charterers, and yards can work together to ensure we treat vessels holistically, over the entire lifecycle, rather than a collection of separate sub-systems.

‘We need to recognise how any single decision, for example the choice of fuel or introduction of a new digital system, impacts upon other ship systems, the vessel as a whole, and even the fleet. But, if we can all work together, step out of our silos, we can develop the procedures and competencies needed to meet these challenges and enable a culture of continuous improvement.’

The white paper focuses on the ‘twin trends shaping the industry’ – digitalisation and decarbonisation – and the different safety-related risks associated with these trends.

Fenna van de Merwe, Principal Consultant at DNV GL – Maritime, and the paper’s lead author, argued: ‘If we want to ensure our industry transforms safely, we must embrace the idea that whenever we are developing new technologies, systems and processes, the end user must be central to that development process.

‘Our aim should be that throughout the industry we have a shared focus that in both design and operation we are supporting people in their work and decision making. This is essential to understanding these new risks and to building the safety barriers that will enable us to realise the potential of these new technologies and processes safely.’

Click here to download a copy of the white paper, Closing the safety gap in an era of transformation.

Ian Taylor

Ian Taylor