Environmental efforts need not stumble over organizational barriers company-to-company
By Ryan Skinner (email)
A meeting early this week brought to light a new, informal grouping of companies that I'd never before heard of. They call themselves "The Five", or "Working Group 5". According to my source, the members are Thorvald Klaveness Group, the Grieg Group, Hoegh Autoliners, Wilh. Wilhelmsen and BW Gas. These five have been co-operating since early last year on environmental initiatives.
Environmental inititatives include a best practice survey, an open exchange of opinions and knowledge, best available technology studies and identification of areas where the potential of improvement is greatest. Imagine Copenhagen Consensus for shipping. Klaveness specializes on exhaust gas scrubbers, Wilhelmsen on ballast water and so on.
Why has no one heard of this? Norwegian shipowners may be leery of discussing co-operation after three big Norwegian shipowners (Stolt-Nielsen, Odfjell and Jo Tankers) were nailed by the SEC for price collusion a few years back. Or maybe it's because they don't see their work as earth-shattering enough to bring up.
The environment, many would say, is not fair grounds for competition. These companies should rather compete on commercial performance, efficiency and business acumen. But, then again, how many times have I heard shipping's big leaders describe their environmental profile as a competitive advantage?
Any effort that drives improved environmental performance can't be bad, I say. Let's just hope those co-operating on the environment aren't mixing up their notes.