The vast majority of charterers are falling short in supporting shipowners to fund the switch to greener shipping, major owners and managers agreed at the TradeWinds Shipowners Forum at Posidonia on Tuesday.

“We don’t see customers paying premiums except for biofuel trials,” Peter Weernink, founder and chief executive of SwissMarine, told the audience.

Bud Darr, executive vice president of maritime policy and government affairs at MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, has had the same experience.

“We’ve seen minimal uptake in the willingness to pay from direct customers,” he said.

“We can talk, we can put up press releases all we want, but at the end of the day we’ll be judged on whether we decarbonised our sector, and that will not happen if we don’t have the fuels.”

According to Darr, much of the onus lies with policymakers.

“Regulators can do a much better job,” he said, citing the European Union.

“The approach they are taking in aviation puts the burden on the energy providers to make sure fuels are available. In shipping, it is the exact opposite — the obligations are on us.”

Subsidies are another area in which regulators could be of help, according to John Coustas, chief executive of container ship owner Danaos Shipping.

“No one today is going to operate ships on methanol unless there is some kind of subsidy,” Coustas told the panel.

Danaos has ordered newbuildings that will be able to run on methanol. Ammonia, however, is not an option for him.

“I’d be rather scared to build a ship with rules that today don’t exist,” he said.