Banking Giants Give Favorable Loan Terms To Lower-Emission Ships

Banking Giants Give Favorable Loan Terms To Lower-Emission Ships

  • Petrofin: the emphasis on ESG by banks and lenders and owners has grown stronger. 
  • The spike in U.S. interest rates from near-zero to 5% were among the many challenges for the shipping industry over the past year.
  • Loan terms for eco vessels are increasingly favorable.

As the shipping industry looks to go greener, financing for vessels fitted to emit lower emissions is on the rise and more widely available than for ships running on conventional fuels, new research has shown. 

The shipping sector, which accounted for about 2% of global energy-related CO2 emissions, is not on track yet to cut emissions to meet global climate goals, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says. The industry has just adopted a more ambitious decarbonization strategy for international shipping, but more efforts – including in adopting fuels other than oil products – would be needed for the sector to materially cut its emissions.   

As shipbuilders and vessel customers aim for a more sustainable shipping industry, financing for “eco vessels” is on the rise, the latest annual Petrofin Global Index, which monitors the global bank ship finance levels, showed this month. 

The lending levels of the top 40 banks financing shipping stood at $289.39 billion at the end of 2022, compared to $290.12 billion in 2021, according to the report. 

The spike in U.S. interest rates from near-zero to 5% were among the many challenges for the shipping industry over the past year, also including a major shift in global trade patterns after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Petrofin Research said. 

“The emphasis on ESG by banks and lenders and owners has grown stronger. This has also affected lenders in vessels which are not deemed to be in line with reducing emissions,” wrote said Ted Petropoulos, Head of Petrofin Research. 

Currently, dual-fuel vessels represent around 47% of all shipbuilding orders, the report found.  

“Whereas zero emissions technology is not yet available, dual fuel and other emission reducing measures are seen as the next best option. Consequently, a two-tier lending market has developed with lenders favouring eco vessels (tier 3, dual fuel, etc.),” Petropoulos added.  

Petrofin Research also sees loan terms for eco vessels growing increasingly favorable. 

“It is noticeable that loan terms for eco vessels are better than for non eco vessels. Oil and gas related vessel use is also frowned upon despite evidence that alternative fuels cannot yet fully replace hydrocarbons,” according to Petrofin’s Petropoulos. 

“This is not to say that finance for conventional technology is not available, but, in our view, the appetite by lenders for these vessels is waning and this does affect, where available, loan terms and such vessels’ values.” 

This year, global ship finance is expected to remain stable compared to 2022 amid a shift away from Western lending towards Far Eastern lending, Petrofin said. 

Earlier this month, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted a revised strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, boosting reduction targets. 

The new strategy aims for net-zero GHG emissions from international shipping close to 2050, compared to a previous commitment of a 50% reduction in emissions by 2050. The IMO is now targeting at least a 20% reduction by 2030 and 70% by 2040, compared to 2008 emission levels. The new strategy also includes striving for even higher reductions than these. The strategy includes a commitment to ensure an uptake of alternative zero and near-zero GHG fuels by 2030. 

“While the revised emissions reduction targets recently announced by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) are now in line with the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, legally binding measures for the implementation of the revised strategy will be needed to steer the maritime shipping sector onto a trajectory consistent with the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 (NZE) Scenario, which requires an almost 15% reduction in emissions from 2022 to 2030,” the IEA said in a report on the shipping industry last week. 

Last year, biofuels met less than 0.5% of global international shipping energy demand as oil products have historically accounted for more than 99% of the total energy demand for shipping. The industry needs a significant rise in the penetration of low- and zero-emission alternative fuels, including biofuels, methanol, hydrogen, ammonia, and electricity, to get on track to net zero, the agency added. In IEA’s net-zero scenario, low-emission fuels would represent nearly 15% of total energy demand in the sector.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for

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