... - are these the future signature characteristics of engines on Chinese inland waterway vessels?
“The majority of us are running at a big loss, and the next three years for an inland waterway shipping company mean either just surviving or going bankrupt.” That’s what the General Manager of one well known, state-owned shipping company told me when I met him in Shanghai in the fall of 2011.
The global economic recession, reduced demand of inland cargo transportation, more newly-built railways and oil pipelines parallel to the waterways, an excessive number of emerging players and prevailing “beach shipbuilders,” and vessel overcapacity after a peak shipbuilding year in 2008, all led to the current, brutal low-price competition among inland waterway shipping companies.
Since fuel costs are around 40% of the total operating costs for them, using residual or heavy fuel oil becomes a substantial cost-cutting measure. Meanwhile, many companies are also looking at diesel-LNG dual fuel technology to retrofit engines on their fleet in preparations for the coming challenges of emission regulation.
Today, local brands/models such as the Zichai 210, Weichai 200, Guangchai 230, ND 300, and Shangchai 135, dominate the Chinese inland waterway market because local manufacturing, heavy fuel oil capability, and low price are the common engine buying criteria. As 2015 (the deadline year to attain an 80% localization rate of marine equipment on built-in-China vessels) approaches, most Chinese shipyards might have to buy only locally-made brands.
Some say dual fuel technology won’t bloom in China and that the localization requirement is just “thunder without rain.” What would you say?
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