Foreship says hesitation no longer an option on ballast water

23 April 2018 – Closing the loophole on further scheduling interpretation of IMO ballast water management system (BWMS) regulations should alert owners to their risk from a supply and yard capacity crunch, according to naval architecture and engineering consultancy Foreship.

Olli Somerkallio, Foreship

Attention at last week’s Marine Environment Protection Committee focused on the agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50% of their 2008 levels, by 2050. However, IMO also rubber stamped the entry into force date for the BWMS code of approval agreed at MEPC 71; systems installed on or after 28 October 2020 are subject to the new code.

Lack of agreement on the details of BWMS testing and approvals has effectively stalled entry into force of the Ballast Water Management Convention since its adoption at IMO in 2004. The delay has encouraged risk-averse shipowners to wait before making BWMS commitments.

“When agreement was reached last year for the BWMS Convention to apply to new ships from 8 September 2017, many in the industry saw that as clarity for a regulation that had effectively been on ice for 13 years,” said Olli Somerkallio, Foreship Head of Machinery Department. “However, there was still work to be done, as some of the approvals issues that had blocked uniform entry into force were revived.” 

For existing ships whose last International Oil Pollution Prevention (IOPP) renewal survey took place between 8 Sept 2014 and 7 Sept 2017, the Convention now demands treatment system installation at the next renewal survey on or after 8 Sept 2017.

“Adopting the Code brings the framework for compliance,” says Somerkallio. “Looked at from the budgetary point of view, it means that hesitation is no longer the smart tactic. Yard space is limited and, while the list of BWMS suppliers may be long, the number of sub-suppliers is not. Many brands draw on the same sources, and these are components that are also used for shore-based water treatment technology.

“I would say that this is the very last moment to start building a fleet-wide plan for BWMS installations and start reasonable negotiations and an orderly procurement process with the system suppliers. Hesitancy now may only result in the short supply of components later, including filters, UV systems or the cells for electro-chlorination systems.”

MEPC 72 also saw amendments to details of the IMO’s guidance on scaling of ballast water management systems and approval of Guidance for Administrations on the type approval process for ballast water management systems.