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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Ballast water treatment technology wins INTERTANKO’s Environmental Challenge

The Panel of Judges for the INTERTANKO Environmental Challenge has reviewed the short list of entries put before them by the association’s Environmental Committee and has selected a winner. The winning entry was announced by INTERTANKO Chairman Lars Carlsson at INTERTANKO’s Dubai Tanker Event, during the Welcome Reception sponsored by the Green Award Foundation.

The three short-listed entries were Teekay Shipping (Japan) Ltd with its Natural Ballast Water Exchange; NEI Treatment Systems Inc with its Venturi Oxygen Stripping System; Dr Timothy Gunner and Bjarne Thygesen with their VOCON Procedure.

The winner is NEI Treatment Systems with its Venturi Oxygen Stripping System. This offers a safe, reliable, cost-effective ballast water treatment system for ocean-going vessels, which eliminates the introduction of invasive organisms while simultaneously protecting the vessel’s ballast tanks against corrosion. By mixing very low-oxygen inert gas into ballast water as it moves through the ballast system, the system removes 95% of the dissolved oxygen from the water in seconds, with no flow rate limit, leaving it to arrive in the ballast tanks in a deoxygenated state. Harmful aquatic organisms are suffocated within hours. Despite its technological complexity the system is mechanically simple and will be no more time-consuming to operate than existing ballast management systems.

This concept has been introduced at a time when regulators and ship operators are looking for effective and practical ballast water treatment systems to enable their vessels to comply with upcoming IMO ballast water regulations. “Laboratory and pilot-scale biological testing indicate that this treatment results in the discharge of ballast water that will meet IMO standards,” says NEI’s President Peter McNulty, who responds to industry concerns that there might not be a shipboard-ready technology available to meet IMO deadlines. A twelve month corrosion test will be completed next month. Preliminary results indicate up to 80% lower corrosion in test panels.

“INTERTANKO encourages quality investments and environmental responsibility from its members and other stake holders in the shipping industry,” says Carlsson.

“I am delighted that the Environmental Challenge can reward such a positive project as NEI’s Venturi Oxygen Stripping System. The whole process has contributed to a world where the shipping industry is taking a larger share of the responsibility for the energy transportation business of which we are so proud.”

The two other short-listed entries were:

The Natural Ballast Water Exchange is a new method for exchanging ballast water requiring no power. The system relies entirely on natural flow and gravity forces to replace 95% of a ship’s ballast water in a considerably reduced time compared to methods currently used. It takes clean water from an inlet in the vessel’s bow, utilising the pressure differential along the hull surface of a running ship. It leads the clean water into the water ballast tanks through the main water ballast line, using positive pressure to push out tainted water. The tainted water is removed from the ship through the sea chest by using the negative pressure/suction existing at the bottom of the hull surface of a running ship. Ship power is only required at the final topping-up stage of the ballast exchange operation.

The VOCON Procedure achieves an 80% reduction in volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from the transportation of crude oil in tankers by a straightforward operational procedure, thereby controlling atmospheric pollution and reducing cargo loss. No additional equipment is required. When gas pressure is routinely released from the vessel’s cargo tanks during the laden voyage, current practice does not make it clear when the release should be stopped. The VOCON Procedure allows for the different physical behaviour of the two distinct types of gas present in the ullage spaces of a laden and inerted cargo tank – unsaturated gas from the vessel’s inert gas system, and saturated hydrocarbon vapours from the crude oil cargo. The procedure requires the monitoring and recording of the pressure drop during the routine gas release. After the initial fast pressure drop, then as soon as the rate of pressure drop eases off and becomes constant, the gas release is stopped.

The VOCON procedure was runner-up in the 2003 Seatrade Awards for Protection of the Marine and Atmospheric Environment.

The Environmental Challenge was set up to find cost-effective, practical solutions to a number of major environmental issues and concerns related to the transport of oil in ships. Some of these issues come from moves towards international regulation at the International Maritime Organization on a number of environmental and safety issues. The three possible categories for entries are Oil in the Sea, Alien Species, Air Emissions from Shipping. The solutions may be technological developments, improved procedures, new facilities or other developments that ultimately benefit both the marine environment and the tanker industry.

INTERTANKO honours all those organisations and individuals who have met the challenge and have undertaken research and development in order to protect our natural environment. It also particularly thanks the Panel of Judges which comprised Admiral Thomas H. Collins, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard; Dr. Karl Laubstein, President of the World Maritime University; Dr. Claude Martin, Director General of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF); Mr. Efthimios Mitropoulos, Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation. Their impressive wealth of experience has been vital in the selection of the winner from the deserving shortlist. It also thanks the Chairman and the members of its Environmental Committee for their conscientious evaluation and consideration of the contributions to INTERTANKO’s Environmental Challenge.


Tim Wilkins, Environment Manager,  INTERTANKO

Phone:  +44 20 7977 7016   Mobile: +44 7884 002 068 E-mail:

Bill Box, Managing Editor, INTERTANKO

Phone:  +44 20 7977 7023   Mobile: +44 7743 801 487 E-mail:

NEI Treatment Systems, LLC :

A photograph of Dr. Mario Tamburri, the marine biologist with the University of Maryland (left) who does NEI’s verification testing amd Mr. Kevin McPherson, NEI's Director of Engineering is available on our website.

 Editors note:

INTERTANKO (The International Association of Independent Tanker Owners)

INTERTANKO has been the voice of the independent tanker owners since 1970. It is a professional, efficient and respected association representing an industry dedicated to delivering a reliable, safe, responsible and competitive service transporting the liquid energy and chemicals that keep the world economy turning.

Membership is open to independent (i.e. not oil company and not state controlled) tanker owners and operators who fulfil the Association ’s membership criteria.

  •  227 members
  • 2,198 tankers
  • 165m dwt
  • 37 countries
  • 70% of independent fleet
  • 271 associate members

INTERTANKO is a forum where the tanker industry meets, as well as being a valuable source of information, opinions and guidance for its members and associate members. Its structure of secretariat, committees and regional panels, and the strong support that it enjoys from its membership and from the tanker and shipping industries, allows it to contribute authoritatively and proactively, at international, national, regional and local level, on behalf of the tanker community.

Governments and regulators have taken a closer interest in tanker shipping in recent years. INTERTANKO has been able to respond by establishing and strengthening relationships with legislators at all levels, working with them to ensure a fair and reasonable distribution of the responsibilities and liabilities involved in carrying liquid energy by sea.