“Posidonia could not have come at a better time for us,” said Andrew Marshall, Coldharbour Marine Chief Executive, a few days before Posidonia opens its doors to the global shipping community in Athens.
“We are in the final stages of a successful ballast water treatment installation for one of our key Greek clients, and we are in negotiations with several other potential customers in this important market. The ballast water treatment sector is picking up at last.”
“Greek ship owners are important to us,” Mr Marshall continued, “because they operate one of the world’s largest fleets and focus on the market sectors in which we specialise – big tankers, bulk carriers and LNG vessels. Of course, their existing ships trade worldwide for many of the world’s blue-chip charterers and Greek owners realise the importance of being able to operate their ships anywhere, at any time, without hindrance. Ballast water discharge compliance is essential.
“The retrofit market is also very important to us, but we note that the Greeks are active once again in contracting new ships,” Mr Marshall said. “If history has taught us anything, it is that Greek owners have excellent timing and are usually ahead of the game. Following at least two years of minimal ship orders, we expect the level of contracting to pick up again in the months ahead.”
Coldharbour, which offers a unique in-voyage treatment system for large vessels based on inert gas technology, is at the advanced stages of negotiations for several projects, including installations aboard some of the largest ships in the world. For the operators of these vessels, the financial and reputational risks resulting from disruptions to terminal operations or non-compliance are unthinkable: they must be certain that the necessary discharge standards can be met.
“We have found that our potential customers in Greece are thorough in conducting their due diligence procedures,” revealed Mr Marshall. “No single ballast water treatment technology is 100% effective at all times and under all operating conditions, so there are pros and cons to be assessed and choices to be made. It is becoming increasingly clear that the choice of treatment system is a critical decision which will have far-reaching cost and reputational implications, and even a ship’s future second-hand value could be adversely impacted.”
Mr Marshall went on to describe the importance of system choice at the newbuilding stage. A lack of engagement on this important decision, he said, could lead to the installation of a shipbuilder’s standard system which in some cases may not be fit for purpose once the intended operating parameters of the vessel are factored in.
One important consideration highlighted by scientific experts is the question of marine organism re-growth during long ballast voyages. Neither the IMO’s type approval process, nor that of the US Coast Guard, adequately address this issue, according to Mr Marshall. The result is that ballast water treated at uptake could well comply with discharge standards at that time, but not after the possible re-growth of organisms during a long ballast voyage. This, Mr Marshall said, has operational and financial consequences for ship operators which some are yet to appreciate fully.
“We are looking forward to the opportunities that Posidonia will provide,” he said, “and we will be happy to welcome all visitors to our stand where we can explain the merits of our unique technology.”