Decarbonisation is now permanently on the agenda. Owners have no choice but to comply with increasingly demanding mandates from the IMO and the world at large.

ABS has stood at the forefront of this process from the very beginning and is well placed to advise owners through the complex maze of regulation, finance, and technology that makes future fleet development so challenging.

Today, after a cautious start, Greek owners are increasingly seeking support from ABS in Athens on advanced decarbonisation projects. In a recent interview with TradeWinds Content Studio, ABS’ senior VP Vassilios Kroustallis discusses Greek shipping’s unique role in this transformation and how ABS is supporting them through its global center in Athens.

“We’re a fan of Greek shipping in ABS.” tells Kroustallis, “It’s the history and tradition. The way it evolves, develops, and adapts.”

ABS has invested heavily in broadening the capabilities of its office in Athens to support Greek owners on this odyssey. Packed with experts in sustainability, alternative fuels and propulsion, ABS Athens is ready to lead the sustainable shipping revolution.

“This gives, I believe, a very strong signal to the market, to the Greek shipping, and also highlights the unparalleled capabilities that we have locally in Greece,” Kroustallis adds.

Greek shipping vital to the energy transition

“We're living in an era that we're going to prompt a lot of changes,” Kroustallis continues. “I'm talking about decarbonisation and that presents the next big challenge for Greek shipping and all shipping.”

As in every other major turning point in maritime, Greece’s shipping industry has a pivotal role to play in this transition. Greek shipping operates across the entire spectrum of vessel types, technology, energy efficiency, and trading patterns. The process of understanding what carbon reduction targets mean for their existing fleet and newbuilding projects is accelerating.

Owners are beginning to evaluate options for primary and auxiliary propulsion, as well as improving vessel efficiency. Pathways towards increased energy efficiency are being explored, such as dual-fuel readiness. Some major names are understood to be looking at investment and partnerships to secure new types of vessel fuel.

ABS is witnessing many shipyard projects focusing on research into future solutions. Owners are hedging their bets with investments in dual-fuel designs to support LNG, LPG, and methanol. Some are even studying and ordering “dual-fuel ready” designs mean to support ammonia and other potential future fuels. Additional projects include consulting with gas carriers on decarbonisation and ESG strategy and sustainability talks with bulk carriers.

The price tag of sustainable shipping

Transforming the shipping industry into something truly sustainable comes with an enormous price tag – especially when you include the development of new fuels. While there are numerous “green finance” programs provided to borrowers who can demonstrate their environmental credentials, it's not always clear how to gain access to them.

“The problem is that there is no universal approach,” explains Kroustallis, “there’s no standardisation relative to ESG and this creates an issue for the owners on how to deal with this.”

Leveraging its sustainability center in Athens, ABS is helping owners gain access to such funds through a new service.

For borrowers, ABS will review ESG guidelines and offer advice on which technologies may qualify them for green financing with a positive environmental contribution. For lenders, it will assess environmental technologies based on IMO guidelines in conjunction with the terms of the EEXI and Carbon Intensity Indicator with reference to the Poseidon Principles.

“Of course, going forward, we’ll have a lot of JDP’s, workshops, analyses, techno-economic analysis, and so on to assist the owners to develop the fleet profile in accordance with the requirements,” Kroustallis says.

The changing role of class

As the shipping industry undergoes this monumental shift, class societies must evolve alongside it. New tools, new services, and new approaches to partnership are needed to reflect against the emerging landscape.

“We have to do it carefully with carefully calculated steps, always considering the safety, meeting the regulatory framework requirements and at the same time, [producing] financially sustainable solutions,” notes Kroustallis.

In the next few years, a raft of new technologies including those that support low and zero-carbon fuels will mature and become available. The safety implications of these options must be fully understood and accounted for, and the value of each option will need to be assessed against the decarbonisation goals of each asset and the wider fleet. ABS aims to lead this evolution in Greece and abroad by supplementing survey and certification services with broader advice around their technical and financial options for decarbonisation and ESG.

“I think we're entering an era that is going to be very exciting, is going to create a lot of challenges and opportunities at the same time," he adds. "And I think all this regulatory framework will create a better world at the end of the day.”

Meet the Expert

Vassilios Kroustallis is Senior Vice President, Global Business Development and Global Marine market sector for ABS, responsible for client relationship management and business solution development across the ABS operational hemispheres. Previously, he served as Vice President, Global Business Development of Europe for ABS, responsible for client relationship management and business solution development within the region.

Prior to that, Kroustallis served as Senior Vice President, Eastern European Operations for ABS, responsible for operations across over 20 countries in Europe. He also served as Regional Vice President of Eastern Europe where he was responsible for survey operations and client services. Kroustallis holds a master’s MSc degree in mechanical engineering from the National Technical University of Athens and has participated in the Senior Executive Program on Strategy, Leadership, and Transformation at the London Business School.