7:00pm, 7 March, 2013
I am currently in Helsinki on an official visit to Finland.
Today, I paid a courtesy visit to the President of the Republic of Finland and held a meeting with Minister of Transport, Ms Merja Kyllonen, for an exchange of views about a number of current important issues in the shipping industry and IMO, including my review and reform process, winter navigation and preparation of the Polar Code, GHG emissions from ships, sulphur regulations and the availability of low-sulphur fuels and alternative fuels. Ambassador Pekka Huhtaniemi was with me throughout my official visits to the President and Minister Kyllonen and I appreciate very much his support during my visit to Finland.
I am really impressed by the recent actions taken by the Finnish Government to support the shipping industry in preparation for compliance with the 2015 sulphur regulations, and their decision to provide State aid for promotion of new technology and innovation, such as ships using LNG as fuel, in order to meet environmental regulations.
The shipping industry is facing a difficult time, having to survive the current economic situation in addition to making efforts to comply with three sets of major environmental regulations: energy-efficiency measures (EEDI), ballast water management and sulphur regulations. It needs support from Governments, and Governments should establish clear policies to support shipping , to help it meet the challenges of compliance with these new environmental regulations.
I was encouraged to learn that, under the guidance of the Finnish Government, NESTE OIL is making the necessary investment to produce sufficient volumes of the low-sulphur fuels and alternative fuels. Actions taken by the Finnish Government should be followed by other IMO Member Governments so that we can collectively support the shipping industry to overcome the current challenges to meet the requirements for the protection of the environment.
I also had the privilege to experience ice navigation in the biggest port of Finland, aboard an ice breaking power tugboat of NESTE OIL, and experienced the high performance of the tugboat and observed the double-action oil tanker which is designed to navigate backwards to break the ice with its stern - an innovative design indeed. We have many things to learn from Finland with regard winter navigation, in the context of preparation of the Polar Code, with the target year of 2014.