While some shipowners are concerned about meeting the ballast water convention, Goltens Green Technologies simply sees it as another Environmental challenge to be negotiated. In 2010, ship repair specialists, Goltens, established GGT Green Technologies (GGT) to be an independent service provider to the BWT market.
Based in Groningen, Holland, GGT is a centre of excellence that aims to help shipowners meet the many new environmental regulations being introduced in the maritime industry.
44 + ships
Complying with the imminent ballast water treatment (BWT) convention is one of the most pressing issues in shipping and it is in this area that GGT is focusing. In barely 1,5 years, GGT has been involved in projects for 20 vessels. Its most recent collaboration with Optimarin and Saga Shipholding (Norway) AS is doubling this number to over 44 vessels.
Thirty-two projects are installing Optimarin’s Ballast Systems. Eight vessels are for GulfMark, owners and operators of a modern fleet of offshore support vessels that include: Platform Supply, Anchor Handling Towing Supply and Specialist Subsea Support Vessels.
The remaining 24 vessels are sophisticated open-hatch bulk carriers owned by Saga Shipholding, a subsidiary of Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK). These vessels call for large scale Optimarin Ballast Systems (OBS) capable of handling all seawater salinities and fresh water in accordance to the International Maritime Organisation’s ballast water management convention. The OBS system features a fully back-flushing filter with 40 micron screens. It is fully automatic and self-cleaning and capable of removing large sediment particles, zooplantkton and phytoplankton under heavy sediment load conditions.
The system uses ultra violet (UV) radiation as the main treatment, providing a simple system with no negative effect on ballast water tanks. The equipment is also flexible, making it highly suitable for retrofitting small to medium sized vessels.
Optimarin provided GulfMark and Saga systems and GGT is installing them. Optimarin Technical Project Manager, Kim Stian Haugland, was very impressed with the way GGT executed the installation in these projects. “We don’t have the resources to install our systems, so owners employ GGT, who are expertise assisting the owner throughout BWT projects. From planning through to execution, GGT engineers are very effective and their overall project execution is excellent,” he says.
3D laser technology
Haugland adds that the 3D laser technology GGT employs for scanning and modelling to prepare the installation has proven especially effective. “The 3D scanning has become a very important part of initial investigation of ships and installation. More work can be done off the ship, saving time and money and enabling systems to be installed while vessels are in service. Being able to continue operations has tremendous advantages for the shipowner, something we witnessed working together with GGT on the first ever in-service installation on a cement carrier from another large shipowner,” he explains.
After making accurate 3D laser scans, the results are converted into a 3D CAD program. Through this program, various BWT systems can be compared allowing the shipowner to select the right system. Accurate fabrication drawings can also be made and all of the necessary parts can be prefabrication. It also provides the shipowner with the flexibility of being able to change the design during the process without doing a new survey.
Another advantage of using 3D scanning and modelling is that it can be used on sister vessels, greatly reducing the time taken for duel installations. This is one reason why GGT is now pursuing agreements with entire fleets.
Business development manager at GGT, Jurrien Baretta says that while 3D modelling is a powerful technology, it needs to be properly operated in order to realise its full advantages. “Anyone can buy the technology, but it takes expertise to use it properly. We have learned a lot since we started using it and we now have dedicated engineers who know how to use 3D scanning to its full potential,” she says.
Baretta says Optimarin’s Ballast System, and UV systems in general, are effective and simple and have been implemented with good results. But she emphasises that as an independent player in this market, it is GGT’s role to scrutinise the suppliers and their technologies.
The disadvantage of UV systems is that they use more power than many other technologies. This will cost more fuel and in some cases that amount of extra power is simply not available on board of the vessel.
“In order to provide the best service to ship owners we have decided to take on an independent role. That means we have no affiliations with equipment makers. Our goal is to simply be a knowledge resource for ship owners and assist them to upgrade their existing fleet to meet the impending regulations. There is no single solution that is right for every vessel, so we aim to help owners navigate the selection process and find the solution that best fits their vessels and operations, now and in the future” she says.
There are many variables to consider. One thing that has presented a particular problem is finding a system that works effectively in different oceans with varying degrees of salinity. To resolve an industry wide lack of experience in this area GGT is heavily involved in knowledge sharing network groups and staying at the forefront of cutting-edge BWT technologies, processes and assembly.
“There is a tremendous market demand for a full BWT service provider. GGT’s global approach and international team of engineers, technicians and managers, gives clients and shipowners specific engineering expertise and a high level of quality,” says Baretta.
The complexity of the issue and the market’s underdevelopment has led to uncertainty among shipowners as to whether or not to install a system now or to wait. On the one hand the convention has not yet been ratified, so some shipowners see it as an unnecessary cost.
But Baretta says the cost will be far greater for those who wait for the convention to be ratified. “At this stage it is a matter of when, not if, the convention will be ratified. So it is better to start now. Shipowners who do so get cheaper prices not only for the system but also for the associated engineering and installation,” she says.
Like others in the industry, GGT anxiously awaited the finalization of the US Coast Guard ballast water rule.
“The USCG’s February 29th decision follows IMO’s version. And now with both the IMO and USCG pushing ratification, global shipowners must ramp up their BWT system decision-making choices, and fast. The BWT market is definitely getting hotter,” says Jurrien.
GGT are expecting activity to ramp up in 2016 and a last minute rush to come the year after. Obviously, this would not be a good situation for anyone, as it would lead to a bottleneck causing system prices to rise and downtime for vessels. To avoid such a situation, GGT is now aiming to form fleet agreements that allow for better planning for both them and the shipowner.
“In order avoid a bottleneck in 2017, we are aiming to make agreements with entire fleets. Fleet arrangements allow both parties to better plan BWT installations over a five-year period and take advantage of economies of scale. There is a misconception about the time it takes to install a BWT system, so shipowners need to understand that now is the time to start planning,” she concludes.
Shipbuilding Tribune Staff, May 18, 2012; Image: goltens