Norway’s Eksfin breaks new ground with innovative financing package for service purchase

Source: press release, 23 September 2021

Jotun HullSkater, the first robotic technology that has been purposely designed for proactive cleaning
Jotun HullSkater, the first robotic technology that has been purposely designed for proactive cleaning (illlustration: Jotun)

The Norwegian export credit agency, Export Finance Norway (Eksfin), is opening up new territory for state-backed financing with a cutting-edge solution that enables international customers to purchase ongoing services from a Norwegian exporter – a step beyond just capital goods and solutions that have been traditional recipients of its portfolio of loans and Triple A-rated risk guarantees.

Jotun sets precedent
Eksfin has kicked off its new line of competitive service financing with world-leading provider of marine coatings Jotun and its revolutionary antifouling technology brand, Jotun Hull Skating Solutions (HSS). Jotun HSS offers high-performance antifouling, proactive condition monitoring, inspection and proactive cleaning, high-end technical support and a wide range of performance guarantees and service-level agreements in what is probably the first full-package solution of its kind in the maritime industry.

Hull-cleaning robot
An essential component of the Jotun HSS offering is the ground-breaking, onboard Jotun HullSkater, which is the world’s first robotic technology purpose-built for proactive hull cleaning. Jotun HSS operators control the HullSkater via a 4G connection remotely, performing condition monitoring inspections and cleaning tailored to individual vessel schedules through a proprietary algorithm and big data. In combination with Jotun’s premium SeaQuantum Skate antifouling and a set of services, the HullSkater helps ship operators combat early stages of fouling and can potentially reduce fuel costs and CO2 emissions by up to 12.5%, as well as mitigating the spread of invasive species in the world’s oceans.

Made in Norway
The compact hull cleaner is produced in Norway and is the result of robust long-term development collaboration between Jotun and industrial partners Kongsberg Group, shipowner Wallenius Wilhelmsen, telecoms provider Telenor, classification society DNV GL and product development specialists SemCon.

Eksfin and DNV step up
While rolling out the Jotun HSS concept it was important for Jotun to put an attractive financing package in place to incentivise customers. It approached Eskfin which together with Norwegian bank DNB has designed a solution whereby Eksfin has set a customer funding framework amounting to USD 150 million (approximately NOK 1.3 billion), of which DNB is guaranteeing 50%.

“We are really happy to be supporting Jotun and their foreign clients in this transaction,” says Eksfin CEO Tone Lunde Bakker. “We used a lot of time to come up with a workable solution, and in the future, we want to boost our portfolio with similar financing arrangements to facilitate the expanded purchase of services from Norwegian exporters.”

“By 2030, DNB will finance and facilitate sustainable activities worth NOK 150 billion and reduce emissions intensity in the shipping portfolio by one-third from the 2019 level. The agreement with Jotun supports our investment in new, sustainable solutions very well,” says Trine Loe, Global Head of Future & Tech Industries, Corporate Banking, at DNB.

“Jotun HullSkater is a great investment that significantly reduces fuel burn and emissions. Eksfin’s very attractive financing means many more shipowners and operators around the world can put the solution into effect, saving operational costs and contributing to lowering greenhouse gas emissions from shipping,” says Geir Axel Oftedahl, Breakthough (Innovations) Director, Jotun Performance Coatings. Moreover, Jotun estimates that if all ships in challenging operations converted to Jotun HSS, it would result in a CO2 emissions reduction of at least 40 million tons per year.

“Win-win” initiative
Such solutions serve not only to reinforce Norwegian technology development and exports – which is Eksfin’s main objective – but also allow customers globally to benefit. “It’s a win-win for all sides and, as with our wide range of loans and risk guarantees, we really want both international buyers and companies here in Norway to understand that we can do a lot to help them,” says Lunde Bakker.

She also emphasises the importance of supporting environmental technology that accelerates the transition of shipping to a low-carbon future. “A cleaner hull means the ship goes faster through the water and uses less fuel, resulting in cleaner oceans as well as a reduced environmental footprint. We give that a big thumbs-up,” she says.

Eksfin recently announced that it had passed the landmark figure of NOK 10 billion in financing for Norwegian exports of environmentally friendly ships and vessel technology.