Barges, OSVs and other craft with variable operating patterns could use mobile systems, according to one manufacturer
Mobile ballast water management systems (BWMSs) could save some ship operators up to 80% of their compliance costs, according to UK-based Ballast Water Containers (BWC) chief executive Richard Lawson.
He made the claim during a presentation in March at a seminar organised by BWC’s parent, the Malin Group, aimed at barge owners and operators, for whom Mr Lawson believes mobile containerised systems such as those his company offers “represent one of the most commercially efficient methods of compliance”. IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee rejected a proposal at its 72nd meeting, in April, that unmanned non-self-propelled barges be excluded from the Ballast Water Management Convention, meaning they must comply with its provisions.
Mobile treatment systems are particularly suitable for vessels with low utilisation, such as barges, Mr Lawson said, or those with minimal and predictable ballasting operations – such as fixed route container vessels and liner services. “An owner investing in a small number of mobile treatment systems could share them between multiple vessels, avoiding having to retrofit each vessel individually,” he said.
Its mobile system, called BWCBute, would also be suitable for OSVs, Mr Lawson said. He pointed out that a supply vessel’s operational area varies from project to project and will need to treat ballast water if it is crossing international boundaries.
“Like any equipment, a BWMS sitting idle on a vessel for several months – or even years – is not an ideal scenario,” he said. “You can be sure it will require a major overhaul to get it back to operational readiness.” In his view, these problems are avoided by installing a mobile system only when an OSV’s operation calls for ballast treatment. Otherwise, it could be removed and deployed on another vessel.
BWC installs proprietary BWMSs in its containers and currently offers the US Coast Guard (USCG) type-approved Ecochlor and Optimarin treatment systems, or Wärtsilä’s Aquarius AQ-250-UV BWMS, which applied for USCG type-approval in early April. Having a choice of technology “is important if we want to fully satisfy the needs of our clients”, Mr Lawson said.
He reported interest from ports and port services companies in containerised BWMSs following MEPC 71 in July, which approved a circular that set out what ports should do if a ship arrives that is not fitted with a BWMS and has not been able to conduct ballast water exchange. The circular requires such ships to contact the port authority to confirm the availability of “reception facilities, port- or land-based treatment systems or any other alternative measures to the D-1 standard acceptable to the port authority”.
After the BWMC came into force in September, Mr Lawson noted that “interest in mobile containerised treatment systems continues to grow” as an alternative to retrofitting.
IMCA updates its ballast management guidance
Guidance by the International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) was due to be published as this issue of Offshore Support Journal went to press in June, updating its publication Introduction to Ballast Water Management.
“We have been following the ballast water discussions at IMO,” IMCA policy and regulatory affairs adviser Eleni Antoniadou said. OSJ expects the new edition to reflect the situation in the light of IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee Meeting (MEPC 72) in April.
IMCA technical manager Mark Ford outlined some ballast water management topics that are specific to offshore vessels, noting that “one of the main challenges for many offshore vessels is the additional space required to install a treatment plant.”
On the other hand, many offshore vessels do not need to use ballast water management systems (BWMSs) since they only operate in territorial waters and ballast and de-ballast in the same area. “The vessels may, very occasionally, sail on international voyages and the treatment plant would then have to be used,” he said.
Mark Ford (IMCA): A lack of space is a big challenge for OSVs
Heavy lift carriers however have a particular ballast treatment challenge, according to Mr Ford: “These have to ballast and de-ballast very large amounts of water very quickly for stability reasons and the question is posed whether there is a treatment plant capable of effectively handling and treating this throughput.”
OSJ has seen the introduction to IMCA’s guide, which stresses that it does not address any particular BWMS technologies. “Shipowners and operators are encouraged to engage with manufacturers so as to understand the relative merits and otherwise of particular solutions in relation to their own requirements. It should, however, be considered that there are various factors and variables that influence which system or technology is most suitable for a particular ship or operation,” the publication advises.
Manufacturers plan smaller units
The options when choosing a BWMS for an OSV can be limited due to the space available. As IMCA technical manager Mark Ford explained, one of the main challenges for many offshore vessels is the space needed to install a system.
However, new or upgraded technologies may help address this problem. Manufacturer Trojan, for example, is focusing on both a smaller footprint and simpler installation. Its Marinex BWMS also uses UV technology and the company’s marketing manager, Mark Kustermans, said that it plans to introduce its new features this year “[They are] the result of the innovative work from our dedicated R&D group, growing experience at shipyards and operation of systems in the field,” he said.
Desmi’s UV-based BWMS sets a new standard for small-scale BWMS
Desmi Ocean Guard chief executive Rasmus Folsø highlighted its CompactClean model, which it announced last September. It is also a UV-based BWMS and, as its name suggests, it has been designed to “set a new standard for how small the footprint of a BWMS can get,” the company said.
CompactClean’s UV unit “has a unique and patent-pending shape that … ensures optimum dosage of the UV to all organisms in the water and the result is a system that can meet even the very strict USCG-type approval requirements,” the company’s website attests.
It will not replace Desmi Ocean Guard’s existing RayClean system, Mr Folsø said: “RayClean has the market-leading lowest power-consumption; CompactClean has the market-leading lowest footprint.”
Another manufacturer planning to offer a variation on its current system is Bawat, although its chief executive Kim Diederichsen was guarded about the details. He said that its unique combination of heat and deoxygenation is suitable for a wide range of applications, including offshore. “We have identified additional opportunities for solving customers ballast water treatment challenges,” he said.