Study claims new ships are less fuel-efficient

A new study claims that containerships built in 2013 were, on average, 10 per cent less fuel-efficient than those delivered in 1990.


bulk carrier fuel efficiency International Maritime Organisation Marine Environmental Protection Committee Seas at Risk and Transport & Environment ship tanker


New ships built in 2013 were on average 10 per cent less fuel-efficient than those built in 1990, according to a new study commissioned by Seas at Risk and Transport & Environment.

The study also shows that container ships built 30 years ago already, on average, beat the so-called ‘Energy Efficiency Design Index’ standard that the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has set for new ships built in 2020. The standard is up for review next month.

This first ever study of the historical development of the design efficiency of new ships finds that bulk carriers, tankers, and container ships built in 2013 were on average 8 per cent less fuel efficient than those built in 1990, a quarter of a century ago.

The findings contradict claims that shipping has been constantly improving its environmental performance. Oil prices in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the time when new ships were historically most fuel efficient, were around a quarter of the levels seen in the 2008-2013 period (ca. $25 vs. $100 per barrel, in today’s prices). However, this is only half the story, as ships have increased in size which reduces the CO2 emissions per container shipped.

The IMO will review the stringency levels of its Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) – the efficiency standards for new ships – during a meeting of its Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) in London next month (11-15th May).