The data on the number of dry dockings and the fleet requiring ballast water treatment systems suggest there will be a race to achieve retrofits in time for the deadline
Ballast water management system manufacturers are one of the main beneficiaries of shipowners investing in ballast water treatment systems. The other beneficiaries are those involved in the installation, especially the shipyards.
According to Clarkson Research Services, as of the beginning of May 2019, there were 6,517 vessels delivered with ballast water treatment systems and a further 1,200 vessels that have had ballast water treatment systems retrofitted, and another 950 contracted.
This leaves around 40,000 vessels in the current world cargo fleet that did not have ballast water treatment systems fitted as a newbuilding or as a retrofit, and will require one to be installed by the expiry of the IOPP certificate or 2024.
Clarkson Research Services has also recently analysed the shiprepair market and found that it recorded 20,000 repair events at 600 repair yards over the past three years, with the top-ten busiest shiprepair yards in 2018 being:
If the current “fleet” of shiprepair yards managed 20,000 major events (mainly drydockings) in a three-year period, this suggest that all things being equal, the installation of ballast water treatment systems on 40,000 vessels will require six years – good news if you are an investor in a repair yard, but not such good news for owners that have not yet organised an installation.
Alfa Laval has issued a paper on the process required to retrofit a ballast water treatment system. It warns that the installation will be complex because it was not considered during the original construction of most vessels, and as a result there is no dedicated space for the new system.
It reports the typical dock time is two weeks, which means a loss of income on top of the capital cost of the equipment and installation cost. Furthermore, the installation will impact across other systems on the vessel, leading to unexpected complications. As with any complex project, strong communication and flexibility among all parties (controlled by a dedicated project manager) are required.
Alfa Laval recommends that the process starts with the selection of the equipment, but given the potential shortage of shiprepair slots indicated above, the process should probably begin with the booking of the engineering company to assess the available space, and consultation on available slots. With this knowledge, the owner can begin the fun part of attending trade shows and negotiating the price of the ballast water management system that will fit the vessel and its trading patterns.
As a supplier, Alfa Laval has a great deal of experience of retrofit installations and, as in the Case Study, it has found that there is really no such thing as true sister ships. Every vessel has small differences that over time manifest as significant changes, and no assumptions can be made on the scale of economies from installations across a range of vessels. Alfa Laval warns that it is important to specify in advance the level of accuracy required when performing an internal 3D scan. A scan for general machine arrangement will not have the millimetre accuracy needed to fabricate pipework to fit.
According to Alfa Laval and engineering firms, the time spent in the shipyard is around two weeks. It is usually timed to fit with the Special Survey and with maintenance. At the drydocking, it is estimated that only 10 days are available for the actual installation of the ballast water treatment system. This includes the post-installation verification, approval and compliance. This is often the point at which the crew members are given training on the operation and maintenance of the system.
A fleet of VLCCs that has gone in for work to retrofit scrubbers and ballast water treatment systems is a sign of what is ahead, according to the shipyard that won the contract.
Nakilat-Keppel Offshore & Marine (N-KOM) has not revealed the tanker owner that awarded the contract in 2018 – although various companies are known to be using the facilities. The first tanker entered the yard in September 2018 for both scrubber and ballast water treatment system retrofitting, but the majority of the work to be done to fulfil the contract is scheduled for 2019.
Further VLCCs from that fleet are due to enter the yard in Q1 2019. The second and third VLCCs of the series will undergo routine dockings and retrofit of an unnamed inline-type scrubber and an unnamed ballast water treatment system.
The yard said it expects to see continued strong interest in retrofits in 2019, but is preparing itself to deliver other emissions abatement solutions, as well.
A combined approach
An alternative approach is to combine retrofitment with ballast water treatment system manufacturing. Sembcorp Marine has taken this approach through the purchase of the rights and technologies of Ecospec to form the Semb-Eco ballast water treatment, along with its EIMag cathodic protection, BioMag fouling control, ScaMag boiler water treatment and CSNOx emissions abatement technologies. All these technologies deploy ultra-low frequency (ULF) wave technology patented by Ecospec. As part of a share swap, Sembcorp Marine will both relinquish its investment in Ecospec and acquire intellectual property around these technologies.
A Sembcorp Marine spokesman said that the company has been working with Ecospec to develop scrubbers and ballast water treatment systems since 2012. “As we scale up our efforts, we have come to an agreement for Sembcorp Marine to drive the process forward,” he said.
“Through this transaction, Sembcorp Marine further strengthens its intellectual property and knowledge to facilitate research and development of solutions for the global offshore and marine sectors,” said Sembcorp Marine president Wong Weng Sun. “This in turn supports our efforts to move up the value chain so that we can do more for our customers.”
The environmental technologies complement Sembcorp Marine’s retrofitting business, which includes installing scrubbers and ballast water management systems. The company provides project management, vessel survey, integration design engineering and green-technology equipment supply, as well as retrofitting, conducted within scheduled drydockings.
A spokesman confirmed that the UV-based Semb-Eco ballast water management system – the only such system to be researched, developed, manufactured, and factory tested in Singapore – is expected to receive US Coast Guard type-approval certification “in the coming months”.
The introduction of IMO’s global sulphur cap and the ongoing installation timeframe for the BWM Convention are responsible for driving a boom in shiprepairs, noted by several brokers in the first weeks of 2019. In September 2018, Maran Tankers contracted with Sembcorp Marine for the installation of marine scrubbers and ballast water management systems on 13 vessels – the yard group’s biggest environmental retrofitting deal to date.