Ships above 15 years may miss the cut for ballast water system installation
Analysis from classification society ABS suggests that vessels up to 15 years of age are likely to be the oldest to install a ballast water management system (BWMS), with owners of ships aged 16-20 years and 21 years and above more likely to opt for scrapping.
The five-year window to September 2024 in which to carry out the retrofit of a BWMS will see installations peak in 2022, but not all the existing fleet will make it past this milestone.
As retrofit capacity becomes tighter, projections indicate there will likely be a bottleneck of ships seeking installations, resulting in a peak of potential removals.
This phenomenon can be attributed in part to the decision by IMO in MEPC.297(72), adopted 13 April 2018 and effective 13 October 2019, to de-harmonise IOPP certificate renewals from the BWM Convention compliance process.
On a global basis, ABS estimates that approximately 45,000 vessels of 2,000 dwt and larger have yet to adopt a BWMS for compliance. It expects that around 25% of these vessels will not be likely to complete their fourth Special Survey at 20 years and will not be retrofitted with a BWMS.
Even so, around 30,000 vessels of 2,000 dwt and larger will have BWMS retrofits during their special surveys (coincident with IOPP certificate renewal surveys) between September 2019 and September 2024, taking into account that some will need to install a USCG-approved BWMS before their IMO regulation B-3 (as amended) dates.
This works out to about 500 retrofits per calendar month. Based on the man-hours of work required to add these retrofits to the normal out-of-service periods (spread among engineers, designers, BWMS manufacturers, class, flag, shipyards and owners) the industry will probably need a lot more technically qualified personnel to accomplish this work by the deadline. If any of these stakeholders have not yet ramped up to meet these challenges, the entire five-year implementation plan would be at risk of failure.
Retrofit challenges include installing the BWMS itself (footprint, dry and wet operating weights affecting structures) and increased power demand, often challenging the vessel’s existing electric generator capacities. Coincident with some earlier BWMS retrofits will be 1 January 2020 SOx regulations requiring exhaust gas cleaning system (scrubber) installations.
Scrubbers have significant power demand and water pumping requirements that can exceed the vessel’s current power generation capacity. Replacing auxiliary engines requires compliance considerations with progressive NOx regulatory tiers that would add to the costs for the vessel’s compliance and could make newer vessels no longer economically viable after the retrofit.
ABS recommends proper and early BWMS technology choices, selecting experienced designers (with early experience on retrofits). Vendors should be selected based on market staying power, technical assistance and service, and effective operator training. How these work out will determine the performance of retrofit vessels. Getting any of these wrong can doom a vessel to the scrapyard.
William H Burroughs is senior principal engineer, ABS Advisory Services