Interview: Delivering the Right Ballast Water Solution

The LNG bunkering vessel Kairos, which operates without ballasting or deballasting (BSM)

By The Maritime Executive 01-25-2019 07:26:18

Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) provides services for just about every aspect of owning and operating ships, from conceptual design to technical ship management to crewing. Its broad reach gives it perspective into many facets of the marketplace, including compliance with environmental regulations. 

MarEx recently spoke with Krzysztof Kozdron, managing director of BSM's Schulte Marine Concept division, about recent developments in the ballast water treatment market, the solutions employed by BSM's clients and the company's own novel approaches to meeting ballast water requirements. BSM recently facilitated the delivery of a ballast-free ship, the Kairos, which happens to be the world's largest LNG bunkering vessel. 

For BSM's shipmanagement clients, what are the most important deciding factors for ballast water system equipment?

Kozdron: The selection of a ballast water system is not a simple equation or a process that can be automated. It is an amalgamation of technical, operational and commercial criteria that need to be considered, and unfortunately, as far as system types are concerned, there is not a single system that would tick all boxes during the selection process. In order to make the system selection most suitable, we have developed a scrutiny matrix which contains selection drivers like vessel type, the capacity of the existing ballast system, the vessel’s operational area and trading pattern (including minimum holding time). 

Last year, BSM said that many of its shipowning clients have deferred BWTS installation until closer to the compliance deadline. Are customers beginning to move towards completing installation work now?

Kozdron: This is a very interesting point, and we have seen a variety of approaches from our customers. We all know the deadline is soon approaching, but there are multiple drivers for the decision on whether to wait until the last minute to retrofit. In addition to common questions like the availability of the systems, which may have long lead items, and the slots required in the drydocks for retrofits, sometimes commercial issues like charterers’ or trade expectations should also be taken into consideration. In addition, a ballast water system retrofit requires a capital investment by the shipowners, which must be factored into the decision on timing. 

In years past, there has been a fair amount of confusion about the implementation dates and requirements for ballast treatment. Does BSM believe that shipowners have a better sense of clarity now on what the regulations require?

Kozdron: Both the regulatory and statutory frameworks are clear. The issuance of US Coast Guard approval for 15 systems brings considerable clarity to the scene, and a retrofit decision no longer hinges on potential issues with upgrading an AMS-certified system.

BSM's new LNG bunkering vessel, the Kairos, shows that ballast water compliance can be possible without extra equipment. Does BSM plan to pursue this design approach for any other newbuildings?

Kozdron: The "Sea Water Ballast Free" design met tough environmental criteria to achieve the EU TEN-T requirements for both seagoing and river trading, as part of the LNG master plan for the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal. It was achieved by arranging the accommodation at the front of the vessel to improve forward visibility, while at the same time carrying a cargo which achieves propeller immersion in both ballast and fully loaded condition. If the same opportunities arise for a similar vessel in the future, we would follow this concept again, as it makes perfect sense to remove a complicated BWTS where possible.    - MarEx

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.