As fuel prices continue to rise, with no relief in sight, increasing fuel efficiency is a key issue for ship owners and operators. While marine coatings are most often credited with providing protection from corrosion due to weathering and fouling from barnacles and other organisms, they are also crucial components in increasing a vessel's fuel efficiency and environmental impact.
"With an estimated 300 million tons of fuel consumed annually by the world's fleet, there is an ever increasing focus on shipping's environmental footprint," said Jim Brown, marketing operations manager, worldwide marine, International Paint. "At this level of consumption the industry currently emits some 960 million tons of CO2 and nine million tons of SO2 annually. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) estimates that without corrective action and the introduction of new technologies, air emissions, due to increased bunker fuel consumption by the world shipping fleet, could increase by between 38% and 72% by 2020."
Growth in the marine coatings market can be also be attributed to a surge in new building in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as high demand for exported goods from the region.
"The general high demand for freight of goods from Asia to Europe and the U.S., as well as raw materials like iron and coal into China, has led to a significant increase in new buildings, which again leads to a high demand for marine coatings," said Morten Eikenes, group category manager antifoulings, Jotun Coatings. "Northeast Asia is the fastest growing market these days. The yards in South Korea have proven to be highly effective in new buildings. China is up and coming with a tremendous growth in new buildings and demands for marine coatings. As an example of the high new building activity in China, Jotun recently signed a contract for 80 new buildings which is the largest contract every for Jotun."
On the pleasure craft front, growth has been less robust. "In the yacht coatings market in general we are basically flat and stable," said Robert Donat, vice president marketing�North America, Interlux Yacht Finishes. "The area where there is growth is in the super-yacht business. There seems to be no shortage in demand for super-yachts."
"Growth for us is in the primers and topcoats because these types of yachts require a lot of finishing," Donat continued. "The rest of the pleasure boat market-10 to 100 feet-is stable to flat. New boat ownership is down and roughly 70% of the boats sold in the U.S. are used. Boat builders are holding off. The downturn in the economy has certainly trickled down to the yacht business."
Copper prices continue to rise
Raising copper prices have continued to put pressure on marine coatings manufacturers. "The high increase in copper prices the last year has somewhat increased the prices for the customers as well as reduced the margins, especially for the upper segment of the premium products," said Eikenes.
"Unfortunately, the drop in copper prices observed in the last half of 2006 was only temporary and in 2007 copper prices continued their rise at the same average rate since 2003," said Brown. "Demand for copper is still strong, especially in China, which has seen a nine percent increase in demand during 2007, with a further 11% increase forecast for 2008. Despite China heavily investing in local copper mines, global supply is not increasing significantly and, due to strike action at various mines, demand is likely to remain high."
During 2007, International stopped surcharging and added $2.50 onto the selling price of its products. "In February 2008, copper jumped to its highest price since May 2006," said Brown. "Future antifouling price rises remain a possibility if the current trend of rising copper costs continues."
"The cost of copper has had a major effect on the market by driving and increasing the cost of antifoulings significantly," agreed Donat. "It has raised our price by at least 15%. Our overall objective is to lead in technology and be environmentally responsible. Because of the increase in copper, we are doing what we can to meet the needs of the boat owner from a performance perspective and a cost perspective."
IMO Treaty takes effect
One of the most significant developments in the marine coatings market over the last few years has been the IMO's ban, which went into effect January 2008, on organo tin tributyltin (TBT) compounds.
"The five global antifouling suppliers voluntarily agreed to phase out TBT-containing products from January 1, 2003, although the IMO restrictions were not legally entered into force," said Eikenes. "Since then Jotun has focused on TBT-free antifouling paints. Today the only things that affect us from the IMO antifouling treaty are the cost and bureaucracy related to Class Societies requirement for certificates stating that our products are TBT-free. More significantly is the high cost related to the EU Biocidal Products Directive. Customers docking in Europe must be prepared for higher costs of antifoulings compared to markets outside the EU."
Jotun phased out all TBT containing antifouling paints by the end of 2002. "The replacement products, SeaQuantum series, are performing well thanks to a superior silyl-acrylate binder system," said Eikenes. "Our customers' awareness of the superior performance of the SeaQuantum series are now well established."
"IMO has affected the market in a positive way by forcing the market to stop selling tin-based paint," said Donat. "International Paint made a decision back in 2002, before the treaty came onto effect, to stop manufacturing and selling tin-based coatings. The positive for us is we recognized that this global ban was coming and developed technology that works the same or better and have been selling this technology since 2002."
One of the world's largest tankers is owned and operated by Overseas Shipholding Group, Inc. (OSG). The 442,500 dwt V-Plus oil carrier, TI Africa, recently drydocked in Dubai and was coated with Intersleek 900.
Jotun has established two strong antifouling brands in the market-SeaQuantum and SeaForce. "Both series of antifoulings have proven its performance in their targeted segments," said Eikenes. "With increasing oil prices fuel saving has become a top priority for ship owners. SeaQuantum's self-smoothening ability has positioned it as the best fuel saving antifouling in the market. Our focus is to continuously promote SeaQuantum and SeaForce to our worldwide customers. Our latest launch is SeaLion-a high performance biocide-free silicon- based fouling release coating. SeaLion has been very well received in the market and we have high expectations for this new product."
International Paint introduced its next generation of foul release technology in 2007. Intersleek 900 is a patented biocide-free fluoropolymer foul release coating. Intersleek 900 is exceptionally smooth with low levels of Average Hull Roughness combined with excellent foul release capabilities and good resistance to mechanical damage, according to Brown. Other benefits of Intersleek 900 include reduced paint consumption at the next docking, reduced risk of fouling during loading delays and enhanced corporate social responsibility through an improved environmental profile.
International Paint's Interlux has launched a number of new marine products for the pleasure craft market. Specific to the needs of Southern California, Interlux has launched California Bottomkote, a hard, low copper antifouling paint developed to provide effective season-long protection on all power and sail boats. California Bottomkote meets the strict VOC regulations in California and provides excellent antifouling protection. It is engineered to provide antifouling protection while using half the amount of copper compared to bottom paints that have traditionally been used in California.
Also for use in Southern California, Interlux has recently introduced Pacifica antifouling, which provides an alternative to boat owners, boatyards and those in the boating community looking for a copper-free antifouling paint to reduce copper accumulation. Pacifica does not contain copper and uses a controlled biocide release mechanism to combat fouling.
Interlux has also recently launched Trilux 33, a bright colored tin-free antifouling paint to provide safe, effective antifouling protection for fiberglass, wood, steel and aluminum boats. Trilux uses Biolux technology for improved control of slime and algae growth. Trilux 33 is for use below the waterline in fresh, salt and brackish water. It can be applied by brush and roller.
Also new from Interlux is Micron 66, a long lasting self-polishing copolymer with Biolux, formulated to provide antifouling performance in the harshest fouling conditions for two years and beyond. It polishes and becomes smoother with use, reducing drag and fuel consumption. It can be hauled and relaunched without recoatings and the polishing action reduces build-up and minimizes sanding at reapplication.
Sherwin-Williams Industrial and Marine coatings has introduced SeaGuard 6200, a high-solids (80%) epoxy that is free of HAPS. SeaGuard 6200 is ideal for use on many properly prepared steel substrates for marine and offshore vessels and structures, according to the firm. Applications include salt and fresh water immersion service; ballast tanks; bilges and wet void areas; decks and superstructures and underwater hulls. The product is ideal for fabrication and new construction along with maintenance and repair. It can also be utilized as a primer when used as part of an underwater hull system with antifouling coatings.
Sherwin-Williams has also introduced ExpressCote HCR, a chemical resistant glass flake-filled epoxy novolac lining. It is specifically designed to protect steel and concrete from chemicals and solvents at ambient and elevated temperatures for petrochemicals, waste water, power generation and marine markets. ExpressCote HCR offers a rapid return to service, allowing return to full service in as little as 24 hours. This 100% solids epoxy has no VOCs and offers one-coat protection up to 50 mils and edge retention exceeding 70%.