Rules threaten ships

AN amended implementation scheme for ships to comply with the D-2 biological standard under the Ballast Water Management Convention (BWMC) was tentatively accepted at the 71st session of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 71).

The MEPC delayed the implementation schedule for existing ships to comply with the Convention, which aims to stem the transfer of potentially invasive species in ships’ ballast water.

The treaty enters into force on September 8, 2017, and from the date of entry into force, ships will be required to manage their ballast water.

As the expenses of fitting older ships with the necessary equipment could reach up to $US2 million ($F4.05m), certain market estimates showed that owners might opt to demolish such vessels instead of making them compliant with the Convention. In an effort to find out more about the side effects of the BWM Convention, World Maritime News spoke with Christos Efstathiou, technical director of the Greek ship classification society, International Naval Surveys Bureau (INSB Class).

Although the fitting expenses are steep, Mr Efstathiou said it was still early to comment safely whether owners would decide to scrap their vessels instead of retrofitting them with ballast water management systems (BWMS).

He added small-sized ships could face a serious challenge, as shipowners would have no option than to scrap their vessels, unless the price of the systems drops.

On the other hand, shipowners’ decision on larger vessels will depend on the price of the BWMS when the time comes to install the system on board their vessels, as well as on the shipping environment and freight rate levels.

Mr Efstathiou added the price of the BWMS was expected to drop below $US0.5m ($F1.01m).

In late 2016, Moore Stephens informed that vessel operating expenses for both 2016 and 2017 were expected to rise, mainly driven by upgrades being made ahead of September 8, 2017. With the pressure also arising from an overall depression seen in the shipping industry, Efstathiou believes that the shipowners are not willing to invest in retrofits.

The increase of the operational expenses in conjunction with the reduced freights, have already put considerable pressure on shipowners leading to the current trend of cost containment.

Speaking from an engineering point of view, Efstathiou pointed out that the retrofit of a ship with a BWMS is quite challenging.

“The choice of the system depends on the size of the ship and consequently on the space available, as well as on the system’s compatibility with the ship.

In this respect, the advantages and disadvantages of the various technologies used have to be taken into consideration, since there is a spectrum of power parameters that should be considered. A risk assessment should take place in order to identify the impact of the operation of the system, generation of dangerous gases, spillages, exposure to chemicals, power consumption, the stability of the ship, and other related parametres.”

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