Ioanna Procopiou

Ioanna Procopiou: We need fuel, efficiency and a practical approach to decarbonise

Published: 14 November 2023

To the CEO of Sea Traders and founder of Prominence Maritime, Ioanna Procopiou, regulation and shortage of qualified crew and alternative fuels are among the biggest challenges facing shipping in the longer term. In the shorter term, operational efficiency will be key. Along the way, Procopiou believes the role of BIMCO as a practical and balanced voice for the industry is crucial. 

“It is going to be a marathon, not a sprint.”  The aspiration for shipping in a decarbonised world is to continue to transport close to 90 percent of world trade without disruption. New regulations including the CII, EEXI, FuelEU Maritime, and the EU ETS are all major challenges, says Procopiou. 

“It will be very difficult for smaller players and less organised companies because of the added capital needed to manage compliance. But difficulties also present opportunities for those that are well prepared,” she says. 

“Also, we are facing a shortage of qualified crew. There will be a need for more specialised crew to handle the new fuels that our ships will be using. In addition, colleagues of ours who have ordered ships using alternative fuels will be facing a shortage of those fuels.”  

To Procopiou, the development, price, and availability of the alternative fuels of the future is problematic. The new alternative fuels must be produced in an environmentally friendly manner, and the price gap between those and traditional fossil fuels must be narrowed. 

“We need green alternatives. You can have ammonia, and you can have methanol, but it does not count if they are not produced in a green way. This is a challenge, and in addition, we are not the only industry to decarbonise. There are many other industries decarbonising concurrently, and all of us will be competing for these green fuels,” she says. 

The time for operational efficiency is now, not further down the line 

This is one of the reasons she strongly believes the industry must focus on operational efficiency until the availability of fuels is there at the scale needed for shipping. 

“I very much believe in operational measures. It’s a low-hanging fruit. It’s cheap and we can start now. Everything else will take much longer so instead of wasting time and continue polluting we should start immediately,” Procopiou says. 

She adds that to succeed in adopting and implementing such measures as Just-In-Time-Arrivals, charterers and owners must work together efficiently with policies, regulations, and charter party clauses that support such collaboration.  

“We also need policy makers to succeed. They need to listen to the people that are involved in the business, not just scholars or lawmakers. Going forward we will see technological breakthroughs because there will be a lot of money going into research, but until technology catches up, we must not waste time. We need to act now. When we waste time, we pollute, and until we have the fuels at the scale needed and the technological breakthroughs, we can reduce our pollution by not speeding unnecessarily, by triangulating, by keeping our hulls clean and by arriving on time. By being more efficient,” she says.

“With operational measures, we can make a big difference. This is within our reach. We need to focus on those measures and let universities, institutions, research centres, shipyards, and engine manufacturers focus on the technological breakthroughs and fuels that are urgently needed.”  

The voice of BIMCO 

Procopiou has been on the BIMCO board of directors since 2021. As a dry bulk operator, she is facing the same challenges as everyone else in an industry which now has a clear decarbonisation path set out, in our case by the IMO. When it comes to decarbonising, she believes the role of BIMCO as a global organisation is crucial. 

“BIMCO started out as a standardised contracts provider, and still is. But today, another important role of the organisation is that of being the practical voice. There are large interests at stake and BIMCO, with its large member base, provides a balanced approach, a reasonable approach,” she says, adding: 

“BIMCO is not trying to win the popular vote, its aim is to be relevant and practical. We need a voice of reason in our industry, and this is the role of BIMCO.” 

Mette Kronholm Frænde


Mette Kronholm Fraende

Head of External Communications

Copenhagen, Denmark