5 – 8 December 2023
Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC), China
Moderator: Mr Michael Duck,
EVP, Informa Markets
Guest Speaker: Mr Erlend Prytz
CEO, Norway Maritime Exporters
We’ve known each other for some years, and I learned that it’s always a great pleasure to see each other. Usually, I see you in person, but today we connected online, and reminiscing the days during the COVID pandemic.
I suppose what we’re doing now is something that COVID has taught us – the ability to communicate across many miles and oceans while still feeling connected as if we were in the same room. Of course, meeting in person at Marintec, it’s obviously better. Thank you and I’m well living in Norway. As you know, Autumn has taken hold of our country so we’re waiting for snow up in my mountain place but other than that, I’m fine. Thank you.
and I’ve got short sleeves on. So just to prove it. Nonetheless, I must say that I truly admire Norway and you have wonderful countryside and good weather and environment and obviously terrific people. So I look forward to being there once again.
so that we can, for those people who don’t know you, there’s not too many people that are at either end of the earth. Probably, but just a brief introduction would be great.
Quite a few people don’t know who I am and that’s fine. We do this through many channels. The most important is we do it by organizing Team Norway pavilions on trade. Those around the world like Marintec, which is obviously one of the most important ones, but also other shows around the world we organize B2B. Meet the buyer, visits, and networking events. For instance, in October, we’ll have a group actually attending Samsung Heavy Industries as an example of other things that we do. Norway is a huge geographic country. Well, quite small in population of only 5.7 million but quite a large geographical country that actually has a lot of beautiful nature. We’re trying to gather them and help them out in the world, as I mentioned earlier.
OK. Yes. You certainly remind me of your excellent restaurants and your pavilions around the world at Marintec and SMM and also in Norshipping. They are a reflection not only of the best foods and drinks in Norway but also a reflection of the energy that your association puts together in promoting your industries from Norway to the rest of the world. It’s fun. It’s interesting, professional and people like being there and it gives a great place for people to meet and this is the business we’re in. We’re in business to business marketing. We’re in business to business promotion. Some of our companies are major big companies but a lot of them are medium-sized and our smaller companies need to get to meet other people. We very much feel that a trade show is the best way to do it. Your pavilions and your way of marketing is an excellent way to be able to make friends for a long time and meet new people in the future. The new products and activations put it that way.
Well, let me first go back to a few things you mentioned, which I agree with you that we should meet physically and trade shows are a crucial way to do it. And I would also like to add that I mentioned our members being small to medium sized enterprises – almost all of them are unique in their own ways. We are in a post-COVID world and times are difficult for so many reasons. You mentioned geopolitical things that are going on and obviously they are big. But I think there are both challenges and opportunities that we can’t get around it.
Another one is of course pull where I see that one forgives me and or more or parts of the value change and or the end consumer demand. And the bands, a greenish solution from all of us, whether it’s our industry or the airline industry, and not to mention the clothing and the fashion industry. So, I think we see a change there and
Another thing that I think it’s interesting and will be an exciting question is what is the best solution for green energy for shipping in the future? Today we have electric ships by which they have, as of now, a limited range. We have things like ammonia, LPG fuel cells and so forth. All of these face challenges in logistics. There aren’t that many ports that are able to feed out electricity to batteries. There are not many LPG stations and so on and so forth. So, none of this, as of right now seems to be the optimal solution. I don’t have the answer to this obviously, but what will be the next steps for this? Will we end up with one of these solutions or will we have several? Will nuclear be a solution? I mean nuclear, it’s always something the armed forces, the navies of the armed forces, especially in the United States, are using for energy. As far as I know, with success and very few or if any, accidents, will that be the solution for our shipping in the future? I don’t have the answer, but it’s definitely one of the more exciting questions. I’m excited to witness how it ends.
Yes, certainly, I’d agree, and I hear more and more in media, particularly maritime media as well as is nuclear, a green energy. Obviously, there are those people who fight against that very strongly, more and more, there seems to be an acceptance that those submarines and some naval vessels which go round and round the world 100 times without changing fuels is something quite extraordinary and let alone those of hydrogen fuel cells etc. Where will these go to? Norway as a major oil producer and with oil today, close to $100 a barrel is able to reinvest into finding out what green energies are good for the globe, as the IMO legislation which was enacted several years ago in regard to Sulphur contents etc and ships, were to have scrubbers get rid of the oil.
There is around Norway, but there are strategies for each of these companies differs. So, we have those that want to do it and those that want to do joint ventures. But the objective again is to find innovative products and environmental friendly products, and of course sell these to ships and maritime services around the world. I may go back a step, Michael, you mentioned something very important that I think Norway still has, which is a lot of oil and reserves, but we also do a lot of investments in wind farms, both on and offshore. Obviously, it is a big debate. They put big marks on the environment in nature especially both onshore and offshore. Just like you mentioned, Michael on Nuclear energy, that’s the discussion on that too. Whether it’s good or bad for the environment or other parts of the environment. It’s definitely greener than a lot of fossil fuels when it comes to making energy. But I see that as opportunities as well because wind farms are using a lot of the same technology and the same lot of equipment as we are producing for other things that has to do with the marine and that the equipment and ships could also use. You know when they’re talking about that as using wind for proportion and solar power for proportions.
Yeah, Erlend, one of the good things of being an organiser of trade fairs and particularly the marathon side is that even though I’m not in the industry, but we see a lot of people who meet a lot of people around the industry and I’m always impressed by the Nordic nations doing a lot of research into products for the future.
We cannot lean back. If we did, I think we’d lose the competition to other countries very fast and I think we’ll see that Norwegians are very good at inventing things. In fact, we have had to for our history. Before the oil, we had very few natural resources. Fishing, yes, but except for that. What I sometimes wish for and I’m not sure I get to say this is in this interview. So I think that’s one of the reasons we are that way and the companies are very good. I think with more ways in which companies collaborate when they can and compete when they must around the world and now we just help each other if they can. If you come to Marintec and one company is missing, or there is something to show or something needs help. There are ones who would say yes, we’ll help you of course. And we’ll help each other and support each other, and then of course, there are fierce competitors when they must and of course some of them are on within certain product ranges. On issues, but also actually are quite good at collaborating when they can.
Yeah, very nice answer.
We’re well aware. Of some unnamed countries at the moment that are perhaps starting to go backwards in regard to attaining these net zero goals by these dates coming forward because politically it’s difficult to implement it and it can mean higher costs. For people in terms of energy, it can also maybe mean a loss of jobs in some areas. But as I go back to you know the price of oil at present means those that can be reinvested in assisting those areas. It seems to me the way you’re talking is that Norway seems very determined to achieve those goals. Am I reading that right?
I think you’re right, absolutely Michael and I think it’s a very good. The point you’re making and it’s sad that we see there is an opportunity of not going green and that’s very sad because you know as of right now, it might be cheaper to operate in environmentally unfriendly way. You know, it’s cheaper. It’s easier. You can use an old boat with old systems with no scrubbers just as you mentioned, and no equipment for making it. I mean, so that, it’s not good and the costs will grow. Whether or not the job opportunities are less or more with the new ships, I’m not sure because with the new technology, one thing probably is for sure that it will mean higher educated, cheap fairs, seafarers jobs and of course, that means education, and that might be an issue with having less blue collar, low jobs on board because they might need more technology in the boats. However, still a lot of stuff will be going on, such as picking rust, cleaning and other things and painting that needs to be done. Anyway, it is an issue. Of course, that it is costly. As of right now, it’s constant to build an electric boat and it’s costly to operate. We mentioned earlier the logistics for certain kind of other energies that are hard to find as of right now and with ammonia that has its issues. So you’re absolutely right. There are things that we need to look at and again we need to do it as a whole, meaning the whole world needs to put forward. We need to demand to go greener, so we reach the goal as soon as possible again to ensure environmental healthy environmental future generations.
Sure, fully agree on that.
You can correct me if I’m wrong, but we have, and I’d like to mention this sounds bragging, but I like to mention this, I find that in which suppliers are very good on. We have companies like Boonville?? that will deliver within a big trust or some worry trusted company that will in a very short time deliver something to you if anywhere in the world. If you have a problem and they’re not unique, there are many companies like that in Norway. So we look for environmental friendly solutions that will help the industry reach there. The goals by 2050 again look also for other things that might not have to do with the environment, but they could be unmanned ships, autonomous ships. It could be bridges or vacuum toilets. Now they of course can be our environmental issue. But there are so many things that they do including map services, navigation systems, high chairs, deck chairs, seatings, furniture. They may make virtually anything that will go into.
So that should be very good, and we are also very happy that we have, among our members and clients. a big furniture manufacturer called Equalness?
This is from a very small village. With only 1500 people, it’s a fantastic company called Acronis?? It is quite big in China and actually, as of right now, the company is owned by a Chinese man and the owner recognized my business on the show. Our lounge is, of course, furnished with furniture which is absolutely excellent. So, you can come and have a good seat for your lunch or take a rest in there. There are some fantastic stressless chairs for you to relax on.
We look forward to meeting him very much, and to be sitting on one of his chairs. But I’m very pleased to hear you say all those things there.
But it goes to show the thoughts in regard to the environment and wanting to keep things of a good quality. So, with China, they’ve had a four-year interruption due to COVID. I travel in China fairly often so I have a very good view of what’s going on there. And I think that everyone will be pleasantly surprised that things are back to normal, if not more than normal particularly in Shanghai. You know everything that’s there in terms of the infrastructure and the exhibitions. All the exhibitions we put on in many different areas in the past six months have been doing very well there. So I look forward to having the situation go back to normal, if not, better than in previous years.
So for those people listening here, we’ve got a couple of minutes left in what is the most important thing for the buyers. You think we’ve got; we’ll take away from this year’s Marintec from the exhibitors, ie people like yourselves who are there at the moment, what are they? What have they got to come and look at? And what are your members putting forward?
Well, as I mentioned, innovative technology and excellent products, but also Norwegians tend to like long term relationships. It may be a bit difficult for Norwegians to learn and to know and to get to be friends with, or colleagues or collaborating partners. But if you have them as that and you are able to foster a long-term relationship with them, then you will have a friend for life that you can count on. So go in with an open mind and you might just get that.
They are strange in the beginning, but they are very open minded and open hearted. They want to help you and they want to give you an excellent quality product for a good price. They want to make you feel welcomed and feel well at Marintec China. So there are so many opportunities there and again everything from food to furniture, so we have such a broad range of products and services. From there, you can almost meet the entire Norwegian industry in miniature size at Marintec.
Well, certainly I know that everyone’s looking forward to meeting all your members and to see you. My team here are all looking forward to seeing you and your team coming up. So we’ve only got a couple of months to go. It’s a holiday here in Hong Kong and China in the next few days which is called the mid-autumn festival.