Singapore shipowner Berge Bulk says it will spend $1bn over five years as it looks to decarbonise its 80-strong bulker fleet.

The shipowner said it plans to spend the money on a combination of decarbonisation technology as well as carbon offsetting.

“We are a private company, so I don’t mind investing in the business in terms of decarbonisation,” Berge Bulk chief executive James Marshall told the TradeWinds Shipowners Forum in Singapore.

Marshall said the company has set out a goal to be carbon neutral by 2025 at the latest and hopes to achieve that using a four-step process.

“The first step, which we have been doing passionately for the last 10 years, is to improve our carbon efficiency building bigger, better, more efficient ships,” he told the forum.

The next step involves the retrofitting carbon saving devices such as sails and solar power which he claims are all making a “big impact”.

Marshall said the third step is new fuels, whether its ammonia or some sort of biofuel.

Berge Bulk has carried out trials of SkySails aboard the 300,000-dwt Berge Mafadi (built 2019). It said such devices have had a big impact. Photo: Berge Bulk

However, he said he does not believe in LNG because it’s a carbon-based fuel and ultimately the company must use zero-carbon fuels.

“Our fourth step, which is also very critical, is to offset…which we are doing now, and we have gone very hard into it,” said Marshall.

“We have got a lot of different offsetting projects including a commitment to plant 25m trees over the next five years.”

Marshall said such an investment will make an impact today which he said was “absolutely critical” rather than waiting to 2040 or 2050.

While he admits that offsets can be controversial, he said that even if they are not perfect, they are “going to remove something”.

“If you chose the right project, they are going to remove CO2. It does not matter if its 100%, if its 50% or it its just 20%, it is better than nothing.”

He also believes that IMO targets for carbon reduction are “too slack” and that they are not “aggressive enough” because by 2050 we are going to be too hot.

“We need to be more aggressive and the only way we can do that is by offsetting,” he said.