Ballast water management systems (BWMS) may be good for the environment, but not so good for shipowners
Having only recently been tasked with covering the ballast water industry I am still learning the difference between UV and electro-chlorination and all the variations in between and outside of this range of possible kit.
If that was not enough, the timeline for implementation appears to be one of stop-start and in the year that IMO celebrates its 70th anniversary, the Ballast Water Management Convention is certainly not one of its finest moments.
Engineers talk of the bath tub curve, where initially a high level of input is required to solve the problems. We are still in that process, and as someone new to this industry it seems clear that those forming the regulations did not listen to those that understood the engineering challenges involved. Had they done so, BWMS could have been introduced during the mature phase (the bottom of the curve).
The result is that ballast water management systems are causing shipowners financial distress: Intertanko has reported that between 60 to 80% of ballast water management systems installed on members’ ships had encountered problems.
Therefore, it seems I am not the only one going through a steep learning curve. The problem for shipowners is that time is running out to sort out these issues. A ship must be in compliance with D2 before 8 September 2024.
The crucial date is the renewal of IOPP with a possible three month extension from the flag administration
Eventually the technology will mature and BWMS may be as reliable and as well understood as any other piece of kit on a ship, be it a turbocharger or windlass.
However, as someone who has worked in the finance side of the shipping industry, the main issue I foresee before BWMS technology use reaches the mature stage, will be the emergence of the value of a ship significantly predicated on the make and evidential performance of the BWMS on board. For the shipowner, the distress of BWMS may never end.
If you have any views on the BWMS industry, I would be interested to hear your opinion. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.