In an era in which sustainability has become the objective, the shipping industry is investing in eco-friendly technologies, cleaner fuels, and energy-efficient ship designs
By Souzana Psaras

In 2024, the Cyprus maritime industry will find itself at a pivotal juncture, navigating a dynamic landscape filled with both challenges and opportunities in global shipping.

In a recent interview featured on CBN, Stelios Himonas, Permanent Secretary of the Deputy Ministry of Shipping, emphasised Cyprus’ commitment to maintaining its competitive edge in the global maritime industry. He said Cyprus was embracing digital technologies and optimising business procedures to enhance operational efficiency transitioning to alternative fuels and adopting new bunkering technologies to meet sustainability goals.

Valantis Christodoulou, a Senior Vessel Operator at a Limassol-based shipping company, echoes this sentiment, underlining Cyprus’s status as a prominent shipping hub in the Eastern Mediterranean. He attributes this success to the country’s strategic location and favourable legal and tax framework.

“Cyprus’s strategic location and favourable legal and tax framework have contributed to its status as a prominent shipping hub in the Eastern Mediterranean,” he said. The importance of Cyprus’ skilled workforce and advanced infrastructure, which attracted numerous shipping companies to establish their base in the country, were key.

“The skilled workforce and advanced infrastructure in Cyprus have attracted numerous international shipping companies to establish their base here, further enhancing the country’s position in the global shipping industry.”

Cyprus’ maritime and ship management community had made a significant contribution to the country’s economy. The ship management sector in Cyprus has been steadily growing and is expected to continue along this path in the coming years. The government aims to increase the tonnage of vessels under the Cypriot flag to 45 million by the end of the year. This ambitious goal reflects the country’s strategic plan to attract more foreign ship owners and continue nurturing its reputation as a premier ship management centre. Furthermore, Cyprus’s ship management industry has expanded its services to include niche market segments such as offshore energy and yacht management, boosting to the industry’s diversity and growth potential.

In an era in which sustainability has become the objective, the shipping industry has embraced cleaner practices. It is investing in eco-friendly technologies, cleaner fuels, and energy-efficient ship designs.

Tasos Charalambous, Senior Commercial Manager at a ship management company, underscores Cyprus’s commitment to emission reduction and adherence to international regulations on greenhouse gas emissions.

“We understand the imperative for greener practices in shipping, and we are actively adopting sustainable solutions,” said Charalambous. “As people become more conscious about the environmental impact, the demand for sustainable practices in shipping will undoubtedly continue to grow,” he added.


Renewable Energy Integration
In January 2015 Cyprus collaborated with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to come up with a roadmap for deploying renewable energy in its maritime sector, aimed at integrating renewable energy sources into the grid.

In line with this, the adoption of solar panels and wind turbines for onboard electricity generation is gaining traction in the industry. Marine Insight reports that the use of solar panels can reduce carbon emissions by up to 1.2 million tonnes per year, while wind turbines can result in a reduction of up to 5,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

Cyprus has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 24 per cent by 2030, and has actively taken steps towards achieving this goal. The Cyprus Maritime Administration has recently launched a pilot project to test a sail-assist system on a local vessel, reflecting the commitment to decarbonise the shipping sector. According to this initiative, the sail-assist system has the potential to contribute significantly to the reduction of emissions.

Cyprus’ shipping industry has also adopted several technologies to improve operational efficiency, sustainability, and transparency. One significant technological advancement is the Internet of Things (IoT), which is being used to monitor vessel performance in real time and reduce emissions. The use of IoT has enabled maritime companies to collect and analyse data, leading to informed decision-making and cost savings.

Blockchain in Ship Registration
It has also embraced blockchain technology to enhance ship registration and ownership verification processes. The Cyprus Shipping Association launched the Ez-Reg platform, a blockchain-based solution that allows for secure and tamper-proof management of ship registration, ownership verification, and mortgages. By leveraging blockchain, this platform has significantly streamlined registration processes, reducing the time required to do so by up to 90 per cent and promoting transparency in ship ownership.
The Deputy Ministry of Shipping is now implementing a new policy for vessel registration that includes the adoption of Ez-Reg.

Data Analytics for Efficiency
Data analytics have also played a big part in enhancing route optimisation and reducing fuel consumption in maritime operations in Cyprus. Industry people acknowledge the importance of data analysis for optimising vessel performance, reducing fuel consumption, and mitigating carbon emissions. By utilising data on weather patterns, ocean currents, and fuel consumption, operators can make informed decisions to optimise routes and minimise fuel consumption.

“It is inspiring to see how the shipping sector in Cyprus is actively embracing environmental and technological changes to provide a positive and innovative maritime experience,” said Alexis Psaras, an experienced Bunker and Lubricant Trader.

“The forward-thinking approach of Cyprus, with its full embrace of digitalisation and cutting-edge technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence, has positioned it as a pioneer in autonomous shipping,” he said.

Psaras underlined the significance of the thriving digital transformation. “Cyprus is leading the way in leveraging technologies like the Internet of Things and data analytics to optimise maritime operations,” he said. “The adoption of digital twins for ships and ports is gaining momentum, enabling real-time monitoring and heightened efficiency, offering customers a streamlined and efficient maritime journey.”

According to RSM Global’s ‘Cyprus Shipping Insights 2023’, Cyprus shipping companies were adopting various approaches to deal with the increased costs associated with environmental regulations and the transition to lower-carbon fuels. The government was also supporting green and digital initiatives.

Digitalisation and automation technologies were helping shipping companies optimise their operations, reduce fuel consumption, and minimise manual errors. By using real-time data and analytics, they can better comply with environmental regulations and improve their operational efficiencies.

Overall, Cyprus shipping companies are striving to maintain competitiveness while balancing environmental responsibility and consumer affordability.

Challenges Ahead
However, Cypriot shipping companies and shipowners should prepare for significant challenges in 2024 due to the evolving global maritime industry. These challenges include navigating complex regulatory frameworks and compliance requirements, addressing environmental sustainability concerns, incorporating alternative fuels, and adapting to rapid technological advancements.

With its commitment to sustainability, innovation, and international cooperation, Cyprus is well-positioned to capitalise on emerging opportunities and maintain its status as a leading centre in the global shipping market.
As Tasos Charalambous summarises, “Cyprus’s maritime industry will continue to evolve and adapt, always seeking new horizons while staying true to its historical roots and commitment to sustainability.”