Tanker cargo loading and unloading requires specific ballast water management system (BWMS) flow rates but not all systems are suitable. Experts close to the problem discuss remedies and solutions
In the Riviera Maritime Media webinar, Tanker BWMS retrofits in the age of COVID, Ecochlor director of business development Panos Smyroglou, Choice Ballast Solutions senior compliance manager Debra DiCianna, and Optimarin chief executive Leiv Kallestad, discussed the ballast water treatment system retrofit installation backlog and used case studies to illustrate innovative solutions.
The webinar was sponsored by Ecochlor and Optimarin, with INTERTANKO the supporting organisation.
Ms DiCianna noted that tankers present a special set of challenges for ballast water treatment system installations. “Tanker installation is very complicated. Out of all of the ballast water management system retrofits that we do, it is probably the most complicated. Tankers vary by their treated (ballast water flow) rates which impacts the treatment capacity and the size of the units,” she said, adding “There are a lot of design challenges, especially looking at the hazardous spaces.”
She emphasised that the treatment rated capacity, the size of the equipment and the size of the piping should influence the ballast water treatment system to be installed. Instead, Ms DiCianna noted that owners and operators continue to pick the lowest capital cost unit, which is having a significant impact on tanker loading rates. “(Operators) are not looking at the long-term cost,” she said.
In a poll conducted during the webinar: If a BWMS is purchased, was the purchase based on... 47% chose best operational BWMS for fleet, 30% lowest cost, 23% experience of BWMS. Service area of the BWMS manufacturer was an option in the poll, but was not selected by any delegate.
Another poll teased out delegates’ attitude to the cost of ballast water treatment. When asked the decisive factor when purchasing a BWMS, delegates reactions were: 39% lifecycle cost, 39% price, 22% service and support.
Covid-19 continues to have a large impact on installation, especially as the tanker sector moves closer to the 2022 deadline. The impact stems from vessel access to scan machinery spaces, owners being given reduced time available in the yard, supply chain issues, and incomplete installations due to waiting for components. Ms DiCianna said owners and operators must communicate these issues with IMO, flag administration and regulatory authorities, such as the US Coast Guard.
The timeline is crucial, and is dependent on the BWMS procurement and planning process. In a poll, delegates were asked where were they in the timeline: At what stage of BWMS purchase and installation are owners and operators? The poll revealed that 28% had completed the commissioning testing plan, 24% had identified the engineering firm, 20% had identified the BWMS required, and 16% had the engineering design completed. 12% had already purchased the ballast water treatment system.
Just as important is the decision on which BWMS to install – were tanker owners and operators still shopping? In a poll, 76% revealed they had already identified the BWMS to be installed on the vessel and fleet, while 24% had not.
Ms DiCianna presented a case study on the innovative installation of Ecochlor ballast water treatment systems on Scorpio tankers. Choice developed an arrangement to mitigate the increasing cost of materials, mainly steel and piping, for deckhouses.
Choice has developed and engineered a new design of ’filter enclosure’ which greatly reduced the size of the original deckhouse design and saved on material and construction costs, including piping and ancillary equipment. The design also reduced the footprint and weight on deck. As Ms DiCianna pointed out, there are clear advantages when working with an engineering company that has years of ballast water treatment installation experience and has the flexibility to engineer solutions. While the filter enclosure was designed to satisfy a requirement on tankers, it can also be used on other types of vessels.
The first representative to speak from the two ballast water treatment systems providers on the webinar panel was Mr Kallestad. He noted there will always be a discussion about which system is best suited for tankers, but there seems to be a 50:50 split in the tanker sector. “If we look at the distribution of installations and systems sold to the tanker segment so far, it seems based on an IHS study that was released last year, there is a fairly even distribution between UV plus filter versus electrolyte or chlorine-based systems sold to the tanker fleet,” he said.
He noted there could be an issue of scale with UV and filter systems, in that as the rated capacity increases, so does the footprint of the UV plus filter system, and possibly the power consumption.
“However, there are several advantages,” he said. One is the simple engineering and ease of installation. This is greatly facilitated by using engineering firms familiar with the installation. The UV and filter system offers modular flexibility, too, he noted, with below-deck installation or a deckhouse. He also believed the lack of chemicals added or produced is easier on crews.
Mr Kallestad noted one change in the current pandemic is the “home office curse”. He said, “The communication between departments (in shipping companies) is perhaps not as efficient as when people are working in a common office environment. We see that, for instance, procurement people have a different dialogue with operations staff than under normal circumstances. This impacts their purchasing decisions. We also see that schedules are changed, causing disruptions at yards.”
In a webinar poll, delegates were asked if they had experienced BWMS installation delays in the past year due to Covid. 40% said minimal delay (less than 90 days), 33% no delay, and 27% experienced significant delays (greater than 90 days).
Optimarin is currently working on installations on 17 tankers. The key decisions in the process were to choose a turnkey centralised engineering-based project, with a deckhouse solution. This was commissioned in the yard by Optimarin or certified personnel from global service partners.
Mr Smyroglou presented a new product, EcoOne. This is a filterless ballast water treatment system that was developed to maintain high flow rates in challenging waters. He explained that the chemical produced in the EcoOne system, chlorine dioxide, mainly reacts with living organisms and is unaffected by high levels of total suspended solids.
The result is a much simplified ballast water treatment system layout for tankers. He said, “We still have our two chemical tanks, storage tanks and treatment unit, but filtration is gone. And as a result, the pipework configuration is considerably simplified. The engineering companies estimate a 40% reduction in piping requirements versus the filter system and similar reductions with cabling and so on.”
In a webinar poll, delegates were asked the most important BWMS operational consideration: 88% said system reliability, 6% operating cost, and 6% said planning and executing ballast water operations.
The EcoOne Hybrid is a development for tankers that may operate in fresh water. “Owners expressed a desire to have a small standby filter,” said Mr Smyroglou. The EcoOne system is currently undergoing ship-based testing for both IMO and USCG type-approval on two Maran tankers. The testing is expected to be completed by the end of May 2021.
What is next for ballast water treatment systems on tankers? When it comes to innovation in ballast water treatment systems, delegates were asked which was the most important, with 45% choosing full digital integration of BWMS with the vessel systems, 40% requiring over-the-air trouble shooting and support and 15% choosing innovations in digital class certificate and approval.
This webinar was part of the Tanker Shipping & Trade webinar series and will be available in the webinar library.