MOU aims for low carbon sea transport

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and International, Professor Derrick Armstrong and Mr Simon Bennett, General Manager, Sustainable Development at CNCo after the MOU signing.

FEASIBILITY studies will be soon conducted for the design costs and plan for new generation ships for the Pacific region committed to low carbon sea transport.

The feasibility studies is being made possible through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by the University of the South Pacific (USP) and The China Navigation Company (CNCo),  parent of Swire Shipping and Swire Bulk.

Under the MOU, Project Cerulean aims to eventually develop a new class of small cargo freighter, which, once proven to be commercially viable to operate, can be scaled up in numbers to provide a cost-effective solution for currently marginalised communities in the Pacific Island Communities and Territories (PICT).

In the immediate term, the project aims to design, build and trial a low-carbon Project Ship to service the PICT in partnership with the Micronesian Centre for Sustainable Transport (MCST).

PICT is almost wholly reliant on sea transport for essential imports and other vital transfer of people and goods. Sea transport, especially at the domestic level, has always presented a particularly difficult issue for PICT to find long-term, sustainable, cost-viable solutions for periods of low energy costs.

Lack of appropriate and viable transport is a major barrier to developing economies and social service delivery, especially for remote maritime provinces.

Many routes are uneconomic using conventional shipping solutions and require increasingly high government subsidies to maintain.

Mr Simon Bennett, General Manager, Sustainable Development at CNCo said that they are pleased to be working with USP and MCST, adding that if there is any form of expertise needed for the project; this could be well gained from the two organisations in the Pacific.

He informed that the CNCo is looking into an initial investment of around USD2.5 – 3 million to build a low cost, low carbon, low tech freighter, which will be built in the South Pacific.

“We want to raise economic capacity in the South Pacific and it can service the outlying communities in the region, which are not currently on main line routes,” Mr Bennett stated.

He said this was not a revenue line item for the company, rather a community service, adding that the freighter will be purposely built for the South Pacific, but it may work with other areas.

Professor Derrick Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Innovation and International said working in collaboration with the private sector is critical way for us to go and the University is very pleased and proud to be able to part of this collaboration with Swire Shipping.

Professor Armstrong said both parties share a number of things in common in terms of our values around the issues of sustainable transport and solutions which are good for the environment, and people in the region.

Both CNCo and USP will operate and monitor the project’s performance for two years from launching and delivery into the project post sea trials to prove the commercial viability of the Project Ship. CNCo will be represented by Simon Bennett, General Manager, Sustainable Development, while the Project Manager from USP shall be Dr Peter Nuttall, Scientific and Technical Advisor.

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