2012 is a critical year for the IMO Ballast Water Convention and for Swedish oil products supplier Nynas AB. According to industry sources, it will be the year that the Convention will see ratification. It will also be the year that Nynas will commission chemical-free Alfa Laval PureBallast onboard two newbuildings and Alfa Laval PureBallast 2.0 EX onboard two retrofitted vessels that the company have on bare boat charter.
Eight years after the Convention’s adoption, there is a veritable spurt towards ratification. The number of countries that have ratified the Convention now exceeds the 30 required for the Convention to come into force. If speculation proves true, once the MEPC clarifies how to conduct ballast water sampling onboard, a single country representing 8.5% or more of the gross tonnage of the world’s commercial fleet may finally make enforcement of international law a reality. When that decisive moment occurs, Nynas AB stands prepared.
“I think the Convention will be ratified quite soon, which means that the international regulations will most likely take effect within the next two years,” says Nynas project manager for newbuilding Björn Karlsson, echoing industry thinking. “We at Nynas began preparing for ratification about five years ago when we started investigating options for ballast water treatment onboard the bitumen tankers we charter.”
Cost-savings and efficiency through preparedness
Preparedness is the main reason why Nynas decided in 2008 to purchase and install Alfa Laval PureBallast ballast water treatment systems onboard two newbuild tankers. However, the decision to invest in the system will end up saving the company money in the long run.
“Our vessels typically sail in waters too shallow for ballast water exchange,” explains Karlsson. “That’s why we decided to buy ballast water treatment systems onboard two newbuild tankers. The vessels we charter have a ballast water capacity of less than 5,000 cubic meters, so we didn’t have to comply immediately. But by doing so, we avoid the costs associated with retrofitting the vessels later.”
Selecting a ballast water treatment system that meets Nynas’ criteria for health, safety, security and the environment was also important. The company has a comprehensive policy in place and employs certified management systems to ensure minimal impact of its products and operations on the people’s health and the environment.
“We assessed the other IMO-approved ballast water treatment systems available at that time,” says Karlsson. “Nynas chose PureBallast because we believe that it was the best system available. Treating ballast water with a chemical-free system is better for the environment than the other systems. Plus PureBallast came with Alfa Laval engineering support, equipment quality, and spare parts and service availability in our trading area.”
Innovative engineering and support for newbuildings
As one of the first companies to install ballast water treatment systems onboard tankers, Nynas is blazing the trail for other tanker ship owners and operators. Trailblazing is never easy, but Karlsson notes it has been made much easier with the support and service of a reliable partner.
“Nynas has a solid long-term business relationship with Alfa Laval that spans more than three decades,” Karlsson confides. “We appreciate the engineering expertise and support that Alfa Laval brings to the table. The two PureBallast 500 systems we ordered in 2008 for the Ardea and Mergus, for instance, were not Ex-approved because such systems did not exist at that time. But together with Alfa Laval, we developed a solution for our vessels.”
Alfa Laval adapted PureBallast to Nynas’ requirements for operation in a hazardous tanker environment with cargo at temperatures ranging from 160°C up to 250°C. Rather than installing the PureBallast system below deck as on vessels carrying cargo that is not potentially explosive, Nynas and Alfa Laval decided to build a pressurised structure on the ship’s deck. A double-door construction serves as an airlock and an over-pressurised ventilation system creates a gas-free zone to ensure safe operation. This enabled system certification by Bureau Veritas.
Support beyond design
Alfa Laval support and service, however, didn’t stop after the design and certification of the system but continued strong throughout installation. In fact, says Karlsson, Alfa Laval was instrumental in allaying shipyard concerns about installation.
“The Wuhan Nanhua Huanggang Jiangbei Shipyard, which built the Ardea and Mergus, is a relatively small yard with no prior experience in working with PureBallast,” recounts Karlsson. “Alfa Laval arranged a trip to the Mawei shipyard where PureBallast was being installed on another vessel so our shipyard workers could see firsthand just how compact and easy to install PureBallast is.”
“The old adage, “Seeing is believing,” held true in our case,” says Karlsson. “The interaction between the shipyard crews was priceless. It provided our Wuhan Nanhua workers with full transparency of the installation requirements for the PureBallast system. Alfa Laval went the extra mile for us, which really helped us a lot.”
Another advantage: Alfa Laval Shanghai provided a natural link to PureBallast experts in Sweden in addition to quick access to local support in China. This gives Nynas as well as other western shipowners close contact with experts at the Alfa Laval head office in Tumba, Sweden, while the shipyard in China has the same direct contact with Alfa Laval Shanghai. In other words, both parties have close contact with their respective compatriots, which eases collaboration. According to Karlsson, Alfa Laval’s glocal presence and broad competence gives it a competitive advantage over other ballast water treatment manufacturers who only have local agents nearby.
At the end of February 2012, Alfa Laval Shanghai commissioned the systems onboard the Ardea and Mergus. Karlsson expects that service and support in most major ports will be just as easy and convenient as the service and support Nynas received so far.
Turnkey retrofit with PureBallast 2.0 EX
Once Nynas cast its vote of confidence for the Alfa Laval PureBallast system for the newbuildings it charters, the company saw no reason to change course to retrofit older vessels. In July 2011, upon recommendations from Nynas, shipowner Frederiet placed an order for two PureBallast 500 EX, generation 2.0, the second generation of the chemical-free PureBallast systems, for its Alcedo and Pandion bitumen tankers.
Rather take on the challenge of managing these projects, Nynas placed the job of retrofitting the vessels in the capable hands of Alfa Laval subcontractor Marine Environmental Solutions AB (MESAB) for design, class approval, project management, integration to onboard systems, installation and commissioning services.
“The advantages of having a turnkey partner are obvious,” says Karlsson. “It was only natural that we place our trust in Alfa Laval and MESAB, the people who know the system best.”
Karlsson appreciates having a turnkey ballast water treatment retrofit partner. MESAB dealt directly with the shipyard Falkvarv AB, where the ships docked for routine service. The entire retrofit process, from pre-survey and engineering survey to installation and commissioning services, took approximately three weeks from start to finish.
To determine the placement of equipment, MESAB conducted a pre-survey, which resulted in a detailed written report and 3D drawing of the system layout. In contrast, the engineering survey produced a set of drawings that enabled pre-manufacturing of all major piping in order to minimize vessel downtime. Installation, startup and commissioning services ensured proper function of the system.
When asked to comment on the cooperation with turnkey retrofit partner MESAB, Karlsson smiles and says, “Accountability speaks volumes.”
Retrofits benefit from reduced power consumption
Back in 2008 when the PureBallast systems were ordered for the newbuildings, Nynas asked Alfa Laval to develop an Ex version. The result does not disappoint. PureBallast 2.0 EX comes with additional safety modifications for Zone I, group IIC and temperature class T4, making it suitable for installation aboard most vessels that carry ignition-sensitive cargo. It also features the 40% power savings and operating advantages, such as automatic flow control.
“The reduced power consumption of the PureBallast 2.0 makes it easier for shipyards to work with the designed power on board,” says Karlsson. “This is especially true for our bitumen tankers where available power is at a premium.”
The thoughtful, modular design of PureBallast 2.0 EX enabled the reuse of existing ship ballast water equipment and pipe work, which is another big advantage for shipowners.
Working with a single-source supplier
When asked about the best way to handle onboard systems, Karlsson has three words: reliability, compatibility and convenience.
“That is the way we like to work with our onboard systems. At Nynas, we strive to have as few suppliers as possible. It is better to have a larger scope of supply from one partner and then let them take complete responsibility for the reliable operation of the equipment or system,” comments Karlsson. “Reputation and reliability matter a great deal to us. We’re not just buying equipment, we’re investing in a partnership and the know-how, expertise, resources and support that comes with it.”
So it may come as no surprise that other Alfa Laval equipment, such as purifiers, fuel oil booster unit and fresh water generator, can be found onboard the vessels that Nynas charters.
For the time being, Karlsson does not anticipate the placement of new orders for PureBallast 2.0 EX system or other Alfa Laval equipment. He plans, however, to keep a watchful eye on the four systems currently in operation. The lessons learned from installing and operating these systems put Nynas that critical step ahead and ultimately make them better prepared for 2016.
Source: Alfa Laval Tumba AB, May 22, 2012