INTERTANKO speaks at Green Ship Technology Asia Conference, Hong Kong

The Green Ship Technology events have now been running for over four years and the progress which has been witnessed in the industry on relevant issues during those four years was evident in the leading discussions at this year's event held this week in Hong Kong.


The opening speakers provided a framework for discussion during the course of the two days. In addition to an awareness of the continually growing environmental concern of the general public, the shipping industry remains focused on air emissions, oil in the water and ballast water management.


Arthur Bowring of the Hong Kong Ship Owners' Association (HKSOA) opened the conference on the first day with a strong message based on the need for the industry to step forward with more advanced ideas for reducing pollution from shipping, adding the HKSOA's support for the INTERTANKO proposal to reduce emissions from ships by using distillate fuels in the future.


Prior to this proposal the HKSOA had already been active on this issue and had gone on record as recommending a global cap of 1.0%. Discussions with fuel suppliers had indicated that this might not be practical with regard to heavy fuel oil, and this had led to its change of tack to support the distillate option being proposed for further consideration by INTERTANKO.


The issue of air emissions remained a theme throughout the conference. Robert Kanter from the Port of Long Beach hinted at an extension of the current 24 mile low sulphur ruling in California being extended to 40 miles in the near future. Several other speakers spoke on the other options for reducing air emissions from shipping, including exhaust gas scrubbing technology and advancements in cold ironing (now commonly referred to as Alternative Maritime Power - AMP).


Discussion was not, however, limited to air emissions. INTERTANKO's Environment Manager, Tim Wilkins, gave a presentation on the options of oily waste management, both on board and ashore. While INTERTANKO, together with its industry colleagues, is gathering vitally needed input for the debate on the on-board treatment of oily waste now underway at the IMO, Wilkins explained that there is an urgent need to remain focused on the shore side option if a zero discharge objective is to be met.


He outlined some of the positive steps which had been taken over the last three years at the IMO and European Union (EU) level on port reception facilities but warned of the consequences of politically sensitive incidents such as the Probo Koala case undoing much of this work. The emphasis was clear that the Probo Koala incident should not be used to derail the reception facility work and tie the industry in excessive regulation focused on cross border waste movements. Any increased attention should be focused on the reception facility directive and the need for Member States to meet their MARPOL obligations in the first instance (click here to download the presentation).


 For the first time during a Green Ship Conference, the issue of bio-fouling was introduced and discussed. A clear distinction was made by the Australian biologist, Dr. Robert Hilliard, between bio-fouling and anti-fouling. He said that Australia is already in the process of drafting national requirements involving the inspection and cleaning of ships' hulls before entry into Australian ports. It is understood that these draft requirements go so far as to suggest that following a hull inspection and the identification of an alien species, a ship may be requested to leave the port or dry dock to remove the organism.


INTERTANKO's Environmental Committee will discuss this issue further at its next meeting in Glasgow on 21 November.

Contact: Tim Wilkins