INTERTANKO members investigate methods of ballast treatment

With the Diplomatic Conference on Ballast Water Management due to be held in twelve weeks at IMO and still no sign of an appropriate treatment system on the market, it appears that owners and operators may be caught in the middle of a political and technological divide. Some States have already expressed their intention to implement the legislation even prior to the Convention’s entry into force. This raises further alarm with regard to the lack of treatment equipment available that can meet the standards currently being proposed in the legislation.

INTERTANKO has recognised that treatment systems must demonstrate their worth on board and not only as small, scaled down versions in the laboratory. Taking a bold move to test some of the systems on board their own ships are members Teekay Shipping (Canada) Ltd. and d’Amico Societa di Navigazione SpA. Both companies are now at varying levels of discussion with equipment developers and assessing the feasibility of on-board installation on a trial basis for both existing vessels and new buildings.

Teekay has already introduced its own system, which was short listed for a Seatrade Award in 2002. However, it is now looking not only to enhance the performance of ballast exchange, but also to install physical treatment systems. It has teamed up with INTERTANKO associate member N.E.I. Treatment Systems in Los Angeles, to investigate further the feasibility of de-oxygenation as a treatment method. Alongside this, Teekay will be installing another type of equipment on a sister vessel. The second system uses a combination of hydrocyclone and UV as a means of treatment, which is supplied by Velox Corp. in Calgary. This will allow a like-for-like comparison of the two systems against the same protocols and procedures.

D’Amico Societa di Navigazione in Rome is also on the hunt for trial systems but has yet to identify any which have met its criteria. Paolo d’Amico, Managing Director of d’Amico Societa di Navigazione, explained that the intention is to install equipment on one or two of the product tanker newbuildings due for delivery in 2006.

For the time being, however, all eyes are on IMO. Next week, INTERTANKO will be participating in an informal working group established to look more closely into the ballast treatment equipment type approval process, as drafted in the new Convention. INTERTANKO, along with the ICS, will be championing the need for a guarantee that systems, once installed onboard, perform as they were intended, and do not succumb to the harsh elements encountered on board. Additionally, it must be made clear that officers and crew will not be able to biologically test this equipment. It has already been demonstrated by the MARTOB project that onboard analysis, even by trained marine biologists, is impossible. So long as the equipment is functioning as intended then the ship must not be held accountable for any invasions.

Contact: Tim Wilkins