The shipping industry is facing a major challenge to decarbonise

  • 250m


  • 790k bbls


  • Q4 2023


The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has established a net zero target around 2050, requiring shipping and vessel owners to transition from a carbon intensive industry to one that operates without greenhouse gas (GHG). For existing ships, there are a number of retrofit measures and operational investments a ship owner can make to meet these targets, including drop in biofuels. But what are the challenges for brand new vessels being delivered from the ship yard?

One of the key questions the industry is facing is in choosing which future fuel is going to be worth investing in, as dual-fuel ships are more specialised and therefore more expensive to construct. DNV – the international register and classification company – records 18% of all new contracts in 2023 are alternative fuel capable – i.e. LNG, methanol or LPG. Some ships are also preparing for ammonia as that technology is advancing. Not one of these future fuels are going to be suitable for every single ship-class and trade, but LNG dual-fuel represents the larger proportion of the alternative-fuel ready orderbook.



Dual-fuel vessels have the advantage of being able to consume biofuels in the interim whilst the infrastructure and pricing of these new fuels normalises. Regulation from the EU is upcoming bringing further pricing incentives in the form of reduced penalties to further assist owners in making their decisions, but for many owners they are adopting a wait and see attitude. One solution to this is to construct a vessel that is ‘ready’ – leaving additional space on deck for retrofitting lower density bunker tanks and amended internal infrastructure when it is clear which alternative fuel will be most suitable for that ship class. In the meantime, ship owners can future proof their vessels by opting for the very latest energy saving devices and highest quality paints.

Vitol’s Elandra Swallow, which was launched late 2023, is a 250-metre LR2 tanker with a capacity of 790,000 bbl that is capable of carrying clean and dirty cargoes. Constructed at Hyundai Vinashin shipyard in Vietnam, the daily emissions on this vessel are little more than what an MR would have been a decade ago – but with almost three times the carrying capacity.

Energy saving technologies include:

  • A rudder bulb which minimises energy loss by improving the water flow in front of the rudder that fills the vacuum behind the centre of the propeller
  • Pre-swirl duct that reduces losses at the inflow to the propeller by equalising the inflow via the duct, and thus reducing slipstream losses
  • Propeller fins that weaken the hub vortex



Each technology works in subtlely different ways but all contribute to the vessel moving more efficiently through the water, resulting in fuel savings, and further emissions reduction will be possible with fuel additives and certified biofuels.

Will this new addition to the fleet one day be retrofitted to LNG, methanol or even ammonia? It is of course possible but for now we are pleased to welcome one of the most efficient ships to the Vitol fleet.