Odfjell: Bridging environment and business aspects

Snic 2023 Laurence Odfjell

NBAS is pleased to have Odfjell as a gold sponsor of the Singapore Norway Innovation Conference 2023 – Innovate to Zero. This year, the chair of Odfjell, Laurence Odfjell, will take the stage to discuss innovative ways to fund the green transitions.

However, in this article, we will look back at Erik Hjortland’s groundbreaking keynote at SNIC 2022 – and also update the status for Odfjell almost one year later.

Odfjell takes a series of measures to reduce its carbon footprint. With a commitment to sustainability and a focus on energy efficiency, they see this as an area where they can provide tangible results with existing technologies and tools. Under SNIC 2022, Erik Hjortland, Vice President of Technology at Odfjell Management, stated:

‘We cannot energy efficiency ourselves to zero-emission, but on the road to zero, we can contribute significantly through operational and technical improvements while renewable energy infrastructure ramps up.’

See Hjortland’s keynote here: 

Today, Hjortland states that Odfjell’s strategy remains unchanged:

‘Energy efficiency alone can not bring us to zero. Even so, we choose to be proactive rather than wait for all the complex matters around Net Zero to be solved. Our analysis indicates that these challenges can take much longer time to solve – at scale –  than what one might wish to believe’

In 2022 and 2023, Odfjell has actively deployed 33 new energy-saving devices (ESDs) across their fleet, bringing the total to 133 installations. They are confident and have thoroughly documented that initiatives like these are beneficial for both their business and the environment, with long-term benefits.

This also includes older, existing ships that are more challenging to work with compared to newly built ships. Odfjell has documented that even these ships are fully capable of meeting IMO’s ship-specific requirement of 40% carbon intensity improvement by 2030 without a fuel switch.


Recently DNV certified that on the fleet level, Odfjell’s carbon intensity was 51% improved compared to the 2008 baseline. This has not been achieved by fuel-switch but through a combination of fleet renewal and implementation of operational and technical energy-efficiency measures over many years, and this number will continue to increase – the limit has not been reached.

Erik Hjortland emphasises that they do not wish to create a demand for green fuels prematurely, as this can lead to replacement emissions – or carbon leakages – to other sectors and increase the total global GHG-emissions.

He adds:

‘The global electricity grid still consists of 61% non-renewables. By delivering results through real emission reductions today, we can achieve something with easily available, on-the-shelf technology. These solutions are not meant to replace fuel-switch but work as an addition to the coming resolutions. It is important to keep in mind that we will be regulated to start phasing in alternative fuels before the energy efficiency limit is reached. However, our strategy is rigged for this.’

Hjortland underlines that Odfjell’s strategy bridges two sustainability perspectives: the environmental- and business aspect. Odfjell’s efforts in energy efficiency have reduced the fleet’s reliance on renewable resources and biomasses and increased the company’s competitiveness through lower fuel costs compared to those who only focus on fuels.

Wind-Assisted Propulsion Systems

One of the next steps for Odfjell is wind-assisted propulsion systems (WAPS). According to Hjortland, it is necessary to think out of the box on ship design to fully utilize this technology.

‘This is a concept we have studied- and prepared for during the last three years. Given that we selected the right technology on the right trade-lane, in combination with an enhanced and innovative way of weather-routing optimization, this technology has significant potential and addresses the energy-loss perspective that we shared at SNIC 2022: From one kilowatt-hour of renewable electricity put into the green fuel production process, you lose 80% of it on it’s way to the propeller on the ship. If you instead harvest the renewable energy on the ship itself and transform it directly into a forward thrust, the energy balance comes out very different from that of green fuels.

We have a responsibility to use as little resources as possible. This is particularly important when we eventually start consuming zero- or net zero emission fuels due to land use changes and/or renewable energy demand connected to the production of those fuels.’

NBAS is grateful to have Odfjell as a gold sponsor of SNIC 2023 – Innovate to Zero.

Don’t miss out on the discussion on innovation and business opportunities within the green shift on 29 September!

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