Atlantic Blue Ports addresses industry issues

Monday, February 4, 2019 - 14:16 by ce-press

Cruise Europe chairman Michael McCarthy attended an EU project, Atlantic Blue Port, workshop in Las Palmas in January where many of the issues facing the cruise industry and ports were discussed.

This project supports ports, shipping companies and member states in reaching consensus on appropriate port services and to translate it into acceptable and applicable regulations. It is aligned with the European Sustainable Shipping Forum, the port reception facilities (PRF) working group coordinated by the European Maritime Safety Agency and the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport.

The issue of PRF for ballast, oily waste and scrubber waste from exhaust gas cleaning systems was discussed with Damen demonstrating a mobile ballast water treatment system. This system, although limited in its capacity, has the potential to address an important environmental challenge by discharge at sea of ballast water containing “invasive species”. The demand is growing for such port services especially for oil polluted, scrubber waste and ballast waters as the overall cost of on board treatment and discharge can be prohibitive.

Ballast Water Management Convention enters into force.
The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments entered into force on September 8 2017. Its aim is to stop the spread of potentially invasive aquatic species in ships’ ballast water. Currently the D-1 standard requires ships to exchange their ballast water in open seas, away from coastal waters. Ideally, this means at least 200nm from land and in water at least 200m deep. In many areas exemptions to the depth of water and proximity to land apply. The D-1 standard will continue to 2022 and all vessels must comply to D-2 Standard by 2022 or the 2nd Renewal of the International Oil Pollution Prevention Cert which runs for five years.

D-2 is a performance standard which specifies the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged. New ships must meet the D-2 standard from September 8 2017 while existing ships must initially meet the D-1 standard. Eventually, all ships will have to conform to the D-2 standard. For most ships, this will mean installing special equipment and will include systems which make use of filters and ultraviolet light or electro-chlorination.

IMO Fuel Directive
In 2012 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) capped the limit for sulphur in fuel oil at 3.5% and now they are going even further by limiting the sulphur content to 0.5% from January 1 2020, giving the industry limited time to make extensive operational changes. Many shipping companies, including some cruise companies, made decisions to switch to the low-sulphur fuels that are already common in emission-control areas (ECAs) or, alternatively, to continue to use heavy bunker fuel by installing exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) (commonly known as scrubbers), which capture harmful pollutants from exhaust gas. These EGCS were deemed compliant by classification societies and in consultation with IMO.

The maritime industry has also been dealing with the ship emission regulations now in force in Europe since January 2015 with a sulphur cap on fuel (SOx) limit of 0.10% applying in all EU ports, the Baltic, English Channel and the North Sea ECA zone.

From January 2020, the worldwide reduction to 0.5% from the current 3.5% (by mass SOx) will impact all maritime traffic and is anticipated to add up to 40% fuel cost increase for older ships without scrubbers fitted.

The primary intention of the Sulphur Directive (SD) is to encourage the use of low-sulphur fuel in maritime transport, permits the use of scrubbers as an alternative means of achieving its objective on SOx emissions but does not add a new exemption to the binding environmental objectives of the Water Framework Directive (WFD).

A debate has arisen as to the effect of the SD provisions concerning the use of scrubbers vis-à-vis WFD obligations. The SD makes no reference to the WFD and vice versa. The two directives pursue different but complementary objectives: one relates to reducing emissions of SOx, while the other inter alia relates to protecting and improving the aquatic environment. The WFD's objectives include the prevention of water quality deterioration and have to be met by the national authorities.

In addition to many cruise vessels, scrubbers are also being fitted to vessels such as very large crude carriers (VLCCs) and ultra-large containerships (ULCs) where the economics of scrubbers provide the shortest payback period on the investment in the equipment. This allows these vessels to continue to burn 3.5% fuel worldwide and inside the ECA zone and EU Ports: once the scrubber system is in compliance with less than 0.1% SOx emissions. Scrubbers operate either open-loop, closed-loop or hybrid systems.

DNV GL recently reported that over the past six months more than 1,000 scrubber systems (mainly retrofits) have been ordered across global merchant fleets, with the total number to date currently standing around 1,850 units for vessels fitted with scrubbers or for which installations have been booked. The classification society also notes that hybrid systems are the most popular, due to possible restrictions over usage of open-loop scrubber.

A debate has arisen on the use of open-loop scrubbers in ports and it is vitally important that clarity is provided by the shipping companies as to their benefits/issues. Cruise Europe is aware that scrubber systems work by spraying alkaline water into the vessel’s exhaust, which removes SOx from the ship’s engine and boiler exhaust gases, and in a seawater system the sea’s natural alkalinity largely neutralises the results of SO2 removal before discharge back to the sea. Sulphur in the form of sulphate is the end product of the scrubbing process and is a naturally-occurring constituent of seawater and therefore reportedly not harmful to the sea.

In order for ports to have confidence in the constituents of the open-loop scrubbered washwater, and to support the cruise industry in their systems, greater consultation is required with independent analytical results of the washwater provided.

Ports/vessel monitoring compliance
One of the main issues facing the maritime community is to ensure that vessels transiting the world’s oceans are in compliance with the myriad of international, national, regional, port, and company regulations. A US-based company, Total Marine Solutions, owns and operates a system called Ocean Guardian which is now being operated by many cruise lines and other ocean carriers.

Ocean Guardian matches a vessel’s location anywhere in the world to a proprietary global regulatory database that includes thousands of regulations worldwide. It thus enhances communication between vessel and shore side operations teams providing immediate access to environmental information for fast decision-making on the bridge and in engine rooms.

The system has access to port contact information and allows for a repository for port forms and documentation. It also lists reception facilities and details specific environmental regulations per port.

The agenda for the Cruise Europe conference is being developed at the moment. The idea is to include a panel on sustainability of cruising, which will cover topical issues such as those outlined above.
Atlantic Blue Ports addresses industry issues
Cruiseships transfer minimum quantities of ballast water compared with large tankers and bulk carriers as shown here (c) Cruise Europe