Sailing into the future

When Shipping & Marine last spoke with Erik Thun back in March 2015, Deputy Managing Director, Henrik Källsson, discussed the company’s ambitions to reduce its environmental impact and help improve Sweden’s internal infrastructure through the use of inland waterways. Nine months on and the family-run ship owner has begun to make progress in realising these objectives.

“First of all we have taken delivering of ‘Greenland’, which is a dedicated cement carrier for dry bulk with LNG propulsion,” Henrik highlights. “This is our first LNG powered ship and one of the world’s first dry bulk cargo vessels to use dual fuel propulsion, so it is a really big step for us.” Launched in October ‘M.V. Greenland’, was built by shipyard, Ferus Smit BV for the joint venture, JT Cement, a co-operation between KG Jebsen Cement and Erik Thun. Significantly, the new ship will meet the most stringent emission criteria, as well as any new norms that might come into force in the future. “It was a big challenge developing the vessel before the actual rules came into play but together with our strong partners we have come a long way and she is finally running on LNG power,” says Henrik.

Keen to continue the development of its fleet with LNG-fuelled vessels, in November 2015, the company announced the order of its second dual fuelled vessel from Chinese shipyard, AVIC Dingheng Shipbuilding, with delivery due in 2018. Aside from LNG solutions, Erik Thun has also been looking closely at how it can improve the environmental impact across its whole fleet and a number of options have been investigated. “We are always looking into new ways of reducing our bunker consumption for instance,” explains Henrik. “We have looked into scrubber technology but have found that this wouldn’t be the best investment on our fleet so right now we are focusing on how we can use less bunker fuels. This is being achieved with technology that enables the engine to decrease its revolutions and increase propeller performance, as well as by continuously monitoring our consumption and looking at new ways of improving that.”

Erik Thun is also looking at implementing ballast treatment solutions across its fleet to meet new regulations. However, as Henrik explains, there are many challenges in rolling this out effectively. “We currently have two systems installed but we are finding that their reliability is not as good as we expected,” he says. “We are presently going through a process of testing to make sure they can work properly, before we introduce it to the rest of the fleet.”

As part of Erik Thun’s offering to its regional market in Sweden, the company has been focusing over the course of 2015 on improving sea-based logistics. In May, in partnership with Ahlmark Lines AB and Verenigde Tankrederij, it appointed Johan Lantz as the new CEO of JV company, Avatar Logistics AB to manage solutions for the inland waterways in Sweden. “We really believe that there is potential for development of sea-based logistic solutions both in Lake Vänern and in Lake Mälaren, because the regulations for traffic on the Swedish inland waterways are now about to be adapted so that shipping can become more competitive,” says Henrik. “Additionally, we also see that the new types of sustainable maritime solutions that we will offer in the long-term, can replace road transport in highly congested and environmentally affected areas. We hope to see things really moving with this by the second quarter of 2016.”

As far as the next year is concerned, continuing as it has done will be key to Erik Thun realising its visions of greater market share and environmentally sound operations. At the end of 2015, the company took ownership of the 8000dwt m/t Nordic Trine vessel from Nordic Tankers to expand its footprint in the European 5000-10,000 dwt small product tanker sector. Bringing the company’s total tanker fleet up to 16 vessels in operation and 14 under its ownership, the acquisition puts the company in good stead as it looks to achieve these objectives over the course of 2016.

With global market challenges placing pressures on many of Erik Thun’s operations at present, ensuring that it can perform in the best way possible to support its clients is also central to the company’s strategy as it moves forward. “There will also be lots of focus on reducing costs across our different businesses and implementing best practice throughout all of these,” outlines Henrik. “Of course, we will also be looking further into many environmental aspects of the business, looking particularly at more LNG options. Then, in the longer term we will be looking at expanding our presence across Europe through JV partnerships, and beyond that considering international growth.”

Erik Thun AB
Established 1938

Vessel owner and management company

Fleet of over 40 modern vessels