Chalmers researchers confirm my fears from 2014 regarding cheating on ships' sulphur emissions

By: Thomas Ström 10/24/18

Now there’s proof of what I predicted here on the blog in 2014 and 2015.
Researchers at Chalmers have found that shipping companies are cheating on Northern Europe's sulphur emissions regulations.
In extensive remote measurements made by the researchers with their own method, it appears that every tenth ship is in violation of Northern Europe's sulphur emission regulations.
"Some shipping companies seem to have put it in system to cheat," says Johan Mellqvist, Assistant Professor at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg.
"We can see clear differences in compliance depending on who owns the vessels.”

Chalmers researchers have developed their own monitoring system. It is based on air measurements with a sniffer, which creates a physical and chemical analysis of the air. The sniffer is then supplemented with other technologies, such as optical remote sensing and automatic ship identification systems.

The air measurements are made both at fixed stations at the port of Gothenburg and the bridges across the Sound and the Great Belt, as well as from an airplane that moves around Denmark and across the English Channel.

The system developed by the group at Chalmers presents good results. The system has actually been put to use for sulphur emission monitoring in a number of countries.
During its test period, the researchers have found that there is a lot of cheating in the northern European so-called "sulphur emission control area" (Seca). What is remarkable is that it is not about random variations. The violations follow clear patterns.
"We can see that rarely incoming ships, including cruise ships, violate the rules more often. Also, it is more common for ships to release too much sulphur on their way out of the area than on their way in, as they risk an inspection on board",  says Johan Mellqvist.

In the eastern part of the English Channel, near Seca's border, 15 percent of the ships violate the rules. Around Denmark that number is 10 percent and at the fixed stations it is 2-5 percent.

Nevertheless, the shipping companies can save a lot of money when breaking the rules, according to Professor Johan Mellqvist. He believes, among other things, that the more expensive low sulphur fuel can provide additional costs of 1 million SEK for just a return trip between England and Saint Petersburg.

For my part, I am behind the new monitoring system to 100 percent. What the researchers have now confirmed, I already predicted in 2014.

Here is a selection of those blog posts:

The new directive regarding sulphur regulation will be in force from January 1st of 2015. This means that the sulphur content of the flue gas from all the ships in Northern Europe must reduce their emissions from the current permissible level of 1.0 percent to 0.1 percent.
But since there will be no follow-ups, I am certain many shipping companies will ignore the directive and still charge higher fees even though they have not made the investments in environment as required by the directive. 
Because the big question is: How will this new directive regarding sulphur regulation be regulated and by whom?
As of today, there is no one. 

I am convinced very few of the companies will carry these environmental investments through, which is a necessity for this to become a reality. And why won’t they do it? Well, there are no helpful tools and no authority has been appointed responsible for ensuring that the new rules are followed.  
For NTEX, the new directive will lead to distinctively higher costs for freight across the North Sea, and above all, the Baltic Sea. We are talking about several millions Swedish crowns which we will have to invest in our transportation fleet. In the end this affects the customers.


Add professional board members to the municipal corporations

By: Thomas Ström 10/9/18

The directors should not be certain of their positions until their pension


Public limited companies and boards need more professional business representatives.
And by this, I primarily mean within the board work.
Today, these corporate boards consist solely of confidence-elected municipal politicians, who very rarely have any experience of running a commercial company and everything that that entails.

Gothenburg is without comparison the one municipality in Sweden which has the most municipal companies. On the municipality's website there is an organisational list with over 40 different limited companies. The corresponding number in Stockholm is 20.

In these boards, there are no professional members from the business sector, except in exceptional cases when the municipal politician is also a trader. However, it is in the capacity of an elected official they have ended up in a municipal company board.

It is also these boards that, together with the Bureau of the Municipal Board, appoint and dismiss the highest officials, such as the CEOs of the municipal companies.

When such a board appoints a CEO with long experience from the business sector, it means that they are hiring a person who has much more experience from running companies than themselves.

Some questions that arise at this point are: How can this inexperienced company board make demands on its CEO and how should they know when it is time to dismiss the director in question?

The answer is that they can and do not know when it’s time. If you succeed in becoming a CEO of a municipal company, you will remain there until your pension. Provided that you are in line with the law and you yourself do not want to move on from the position, of course.

I think this is wrong. I believe that all corporate executives, with the directors at the forefront, should be challenged on a regular basis.

Therefore, it is extremely important that more professional business representatives are present in the municipalities' boards.

Currently, several municipal companies are examples of sheltered workshops, which occasionally are saved by municipal tax assets. Just look at Got Event AB, who runs Ullevi and Scandinavium. Last year, the company was responsible for the European Championship in equestrian sport, which was planned to give a plus to the cashier but instead became a financial failure. The bill for the city of Gothenburg and its taxpayers was at least 50 million SEK. Furthermore, Got Event loses around 150 to 200 MSEK each year, but receives group contributions from Göteborg Energi, among other companies, in order to continue its business.

"The voters do not always know what’s in their best interest"

By: Thomas Ström 9/5/18

Power corrupts – the new proposal requires 20 000 new recruitments


Here’s an obvious observation – power corrupts.
The Social Democrats latest motion concerning an extra family week is among the worst pork barrels I've ever seen.
But this is what happens when you consider yourself untouchable and you believe you can do whatever you want.

Approximately 900 000 parents will take part of the family week. The state's cost is 5 billion, but what about the business sector? The companies’ cost is estimated to be somewhere between 32-40 billion SEK.
But it doesn’t stop there. Who will do the job instead of the one who is on leave? If this becomes a reality and everyone takes advantage of their family week, it will create another 20 000 jobs.
Where are you supposed to find these people? There are already major problems in some industries to find skilled people.
In the end, it will boil down to the Swedish industry losing in both production and delivery.
For God's sake, no. We can only hope that family week does not become reality.

Perhaps the incumbent government has the same attitude as the former Infrastructure Minister, who – in conjunction with some foolish motion – expressed this wonderful phrase: "the voters do not always know what’s in their best interest”. 

But she is probably not alone in feeling like this. I am convinced that a large number of all parliamentarians, regardless of party affiliation, sometimes share her attitude.

Looking at the problems in our society today, you can get truly pissed off. And the politicians just talk, talk and talk. They are not actually doing anything about the problems.

Within the business sector, we solve problems in order to progress, but within politics there is only talk.

On a different note, I cannot help but addressing another thing that really annoys me. Environmentalist Gustav Fridolin flies between Bromma and Arlanda. Yes, you read that correctly. I have very reliable sources that confirm the Minister of Education’s several flights between the two airports in the capital.
Is that to practice what you preach? 


Stop the fraud and extortionate interest

By: Thomas Ström 5/25/18

Lower the surcharge on the congestion taxes


If you have been to Stockholm or Göteborg by your car in recent years, you have surely become aware of the congestion taxes.
If you’re also one of those who have failed to pay the bill on time, you have received a surcharge of 500 SEK per occasion.
Up to now, the state has raised 1.2 billion SEK via these penalties.
If a private company would have done something like this, they would have been convicted of extortionate interest and fraud.

The background is that if you, as a car owner, forget to pay the congestion tax on time, you will receive a surcharge of 500 SEK, even if the original cost is only 10 SEK. That means a penalty of over 5 000 percent. If a private company were to do something similar, they would be forced to close shop. The company would have been classified as fraudulent. But not the state. It only keeps bringing in about 200 extra million a year.

For a long time, both the Swedish Transport Agency and the Swedish Tax Agency have stated that it is inappropriate to charge a surcharge of several thousand percent. But neither the former nor the current government has done anything about it. They see it as an extra source of income.

In Stockholm, the congestion tax was introduced in 2007 and in Gothenburg in 2013. Before the start in Gothenburg, a government investigation suggested that the rules should be amended. The proposal was based on a first delay fee of 100 SEK and, if not paid, a surcharge of 500 SEK.
But despite the investigation and proposal, not a single minister has done anything about it.

The surcharge is a fairly common topic in parliamentary motions. The latest one was on March 23 this year, when Lars Beckman (M) submitted a written question to the Minister of Finance Magdalena Andersson. On April 4, she submitted the following written answer to the Riksdag website:
”The money corresponding to the income from congestion taxes, including revenues from the surcharges, go to important infrastructure initiatives. If the surcharges were to be lowered, it would mean that other money would have to be included in the framework of the congestion tax system. This would entail increased borrowings or increases in the congestion tax itself."

In other words, the state is including the surcharges of the congestion tax in its budget! Does that seem wise?
No, a do-over is imperative. Implement what the government investigation concluded five years ago; first, a reasonable delay fee of approximately 100 SEK and then a surcharge of 500 SEK.
By doing so, a large number of car owners would not feel fooled.

"Bohuslän - Europe's dump" More people are paying attention to the plastic in the ocean

By: Thomas Ström 5/18/18

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about all the plastic and other trash that spills up on the beaches of Bohuslän, a stretch of beach that is one of the dirtiest in Europe.
Now more people are also starting to pay attention to this.
The magazine GT / Expressen has also brought up this issue in their reporting.

A report team made a visit with the beach cleaners on the island Tjörn, and what they reported is truly horrifying. Along the Bohus coast, the equivalent of five bathtubs full of trash hits the shore every hour. It has gone so far that the beach cleaners, who occasionally think that they are dealing with a hopeless situation, have dubbed one of the bays at Tjörn to "Disaster Bay".


Here are some excerpts from the GT / Expressen article:

"Disaster Bay” is located southeast of Tjörn, but it is by no means unique. Every hour, year-round, the equivalent of five full bathtubs of trash hits the shore on the Bohus coast. Most of the litter, about 90 percent, is plastic of various kinds.

In total, approximately 7 000 cubic meters of plastic per year lands on the shores of Bohuslän, according to the foundation ”Håll Sverige Rent”. This makes the Bohus Coast one of the most untidy coastlines in Europe. The problem is so serious that Bohuslän has sometimes been called "Europe's dump".

"We often find dead birds with their stomachs full of plastic. It
makes you really sad, especially when you consider that we humans are
causing this", says beach cleaner Johan Eyssen to GT / Expressen.

Personally, I wonder how long it will take until we humans will suffer
from this. If it continues likes this, it will not be long until one
of Sweden's most popular tourist destinations will be unusable. Who is
going to be willing to swim on the west coast in the future?

Think about that when you throw your garbage into the ocean next time!

You will find the full article on GT / Expressen’s website (Swedish).

Nowadays you have to make an appointment to get a passport in most parts of the country

By: Thomas Ström 4/18/18

I'm used to being able to run by the police passport offices, fill out a form with my information, take a picture, sign the form and then, a few weeks later, pick up my new passport.
But not anymore. At least not in Gothenburg.

Starting from April 9th, a visit to the police passport office has to go via the Internet. And believe me – you’re going to have to schedule it a long time ahead. When I visited the site on April 9th, the first available time was on May 27th!

This winter I became aware that it was time to renew my passport. Since I'm going on a trip in early June, I went by the police passport office at the end of March. And there was a long queue, let me tell you that.

Once I had managed my way through the crowd and taken a number, I grumpily noticed that there was closer to 200 people before me in line. 
I soon realized that this visit would not take that half hour I’ve grown accustomed to during my last visits when renewing my passport. It was going to take 2-3 hours.

Last week when I made a new attempt, it was the same thing. That’s when I became aware of the fact that from Monday onwards, I was going to have to schedule my visit online.

After talking about this with friends and family, it became clear to me that this has been the case in Stockholm for quite some time, apparently. On the other hand, this I can understand – Stockholm is a major city. But for it to be like this in the rest of the country is really bad, in my opinion. Something has gone very wrong.
It is probably a yet another sign of the police's increased workload and inadequate resources, combined with the growing population.

For my own part, I will not be able to wait for my scheduled appointment. Worst-case scenario would be to arrange for a temporary passport at the airport, but that is very expensive in relation to the single month it is valid.

No, I’m going to make a trip to Uddevalla instead. They still have drop-in.

And after that, the only thing that remains is to accept that everything will be managed via the web in the future.


By: Thomas Ström 4/6/18

A truckload of plastic is emptied in the oceans every minute


I enjoy to be at and around the sea, which means that a lot of my free time evolves around boating and vacation homes in the archipelago.
But in recent years, this amazing environment has changed dramatically. The problem spells PLASTIC.
Every spring I see an unbelievable amount of plastic floating around and pouring up on our beaches. And this year it's more than ever.
It's completely insane.

According to the World Wild Fund for Nature, eight million tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans every year. That corresponds to a truck load per minute!
Now is the time to do something about it.
Stop discarding waste and especially plastic in our ocean and our nature.

Aside from the fact that it looks awful, it has a huge negative impact on our nature and environment. If we continue down this road, there will be more plastic than fish in our seas by the year of 2050. That’s in about 30 years.

Some marine animals, such as sea turtles, eat plastic bags in the belief that there are jellyfish. Fish get stuck in stray fish nets and are suffocated to death, while birds get stuck in various plastic articles and die. The list goes on and on.

Over time, I am convinced we will establish that people as well are dying as a consequence of all the plastic in our oceans. This is due to two reasons: microplastics and less oxygen production.

Last autumn, I took part of a survey that showed that 83 percent of the world's drinking water is contaminated with microplastics. At the same time, the fish we eat also ingest these small plastic particles. In their hunt for plankton, they are fooled to eat loads of microplastics in the passing. Nobody knows how plastic will affect humans. But what do you think? How could it be a good thing to ingest plastic? What types of diseases could be developed in our bodies?
I am sure that science will answer these questions within a few years. Unfortunately, I do not think the answers will be positive.

In the long run, there is also a risk that the plastic will contribute to the algae in the oceans dying, which would cause even more complications.

I recently came across a publication by Angela Wulff, Professor of Marine Ecology at the Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences with the University of Gothenburg. It was only after reading it that I realised that nearly half of the oxygen in our atmosphere comes from the sea and its algae.
The question is what happens if the algae die and the oxygen production is cut in half?

No, it is time to stop using plastic bags and disposable items as far as possible.
And if you do have to use them, for God's sake - make sure that they do not end up in our waters! 

Credible sources claim that Landvetter must invest 500 million SEK for continued development - Now it would have been nice to have Säve Airport

By: Thomas Ström 3/5/18

Recently, I took part of some interesting information, which I then looked into further.
According to very credible sources, Landvetter Airport has hit the limit for its environmental permit.
Going forward, the airport will not be able to accommodate more corporations wishing to open new routes to and from Gothenburg.
In order to expand their capacity, there is talk of an investment of 500 million SEK.
If this is the case, the closure of Säve Airport was a complete disaster, a mad misconduct.

In January 2015, Swedavia took the decision to shut down Säve Airport because it would cost far too much to renovate the old runway. There was talk about 250 million SEK, but afterwards it was found that the cost of a renovation would have been about 50 million SEK.

I have written about this on the blog on several occasions. I think that the shutdown was completely wrong. I believe that Gothenburg and the entire region need two airports; one of which is a city airport.

In fact, it was a major failure and a big waste of money to shut down Säve.
Imagine if they had instead invested in renovating and expanding the airport.
Imagine the benefits, for Gothenburg and the whole region, if the terminal and the parking spaces would have been moved to the big trail. Then we would have had a city airport that could have served as a good addition to Landvetter.

Säve would also have been a very good resource for business in one of Sweden's most interesting regions, especially if you consider businessjet and businessmen who prioritize speed and accessibility.
These decisions have all resulted in a huge waste of money.

If the information I have taken part of is correct, it will not only affect passengers. Freight flights, which have increased much lately, will also be marked by Landvetter's constraints.

In recent years, NTEX has invested heavily in developing our airline operations in addition to our road and sea transports, and now we are the eleventh largest air carrier operator in Sweden. This year, we expect this part of our business to have a turnover of 100 million SEK. If the Landvetter information is correct, I see a risk that we – like other players –may be limited in terms of shipping to and from Western Sweden.

Nevertheless, the whole region's development might be slowed down because Landvetter has hit its limit for its environmental permit.

I don't believe in thousands of taxi drones

By: Thomas Ström 2/9/18

In order to make the city's urban transport faster and smoother in the future, a plan to build large fleets with taxi drones is in the making. 
I'm skeptical.
My pilot experience tells me that a storm is coming up. 
Hold on to your hats, good people.

Uber plans for a taxi vehicle with seating for four people. The first tests will start in 2020 in Dallas and Los Angeles. But Uber is not alone in having these high-flying plans. Both Chinese and German stakeholders are having the same thoughts.
In China, a start-up company named E-Hang has developed a self-driving drone, which they plan to start testing in Dubai this year.

The drone has space for one person and is equipped with an automatic navigation system for flights along various preprogrammed routes that the passenger can choose from. This drone vehicle has been tested in the outskirts of Canton in southern China.
- We will start mass production of our passenger drones early next year. The plan is to have an automated production line in place during 2018 in order to scale up the production, says E-hang CEO Hu Huazhi to Bloomberg.

But as I was saying; I am highly doubtful that this can actually work out. I do not have any scientific evidence, but based on what I learned during my education and my years as a traffic pilot, it tells me that this will not work if several thousands of vehicles are to share the airspace in and around a large city center.

Mainly, I'm thinking about how much air pressure it takes to lift one airplane. Having multiple vehicles in the air at the same time, the city will surely suffer from stiff breezes or even storms during rush hour. 

That being said, I repeat; hold on to your hats, good people!

About Ströms blogg


Welcome to my blog. Here I will write about transport and logistics and much more ...

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