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Interview with Damen Shipyards Group

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LNG Industry,

Having recently attended the Green Shipping USA Summit in Los Angeles, Jan Van Hogerwou, general manager of Damen Shipyards Group in North America, had the chance to comment on the developments of the BWTS market.

For shipowners it can look like it is too expensive to retrofit older vessels. Is it true, or should they still be compliant with the Convention?

That is actually a really good question, but it all depends on the age, the value, the lifetime still left in a vessel. For some people it might be a calculation of extending the last survey and stretching the lifetime of the ship, if you stretch it to 20 maybe 25 years, you will not fit a ballast water treatment system in it anymore. You will actually need to build a new ship, most likely, to comply with new regulations. Anything between 10 – 15 years, yes, I think, you will definitely retrofit a ballast water treatment system in your vessel. Prices are coming down, the technologies are becoming more simplified. Damen is seeing an enormous increase in ballast water treatment retrofit at our repair and conversion shipyards.

BWTS market is growing fast. Given that, what challenges do you see ahead?

Political challenges mainly. I think a lot of the technology is there, but at local level, state, municipalities, cities, local coast guard, they need to sign off on this, they need to approve the technology that, for instance, Damen has developed. There are many companies that have developed a technology, not everything can be tested for 3 – 5 years, we have tested our system with IMO, a United Nations backed organisation with worldwide recognition, but we are still having issues to be accepted here in the US. A lot of that is politics, that needs to change in order to make technology available, for instance, here in North America - it’s there, but as long as local ports keep signing wafers for vessels that they don’t have to come in with a ballast water treatment system, there is nothing that forces the shipowners to actually install new, or retrofit their vessels with, ballast water treatment systems. That needs to change, in my opinion.

What role has Damen taken to modernize the industry?

Damen has spent a lot of money in the last 4 – 5 years to come up with a unique system that is a combination of the known filtration systems and ultrafiltration systems. That makes our system unique, again spent millions in developing this system, years to test it and I’m proud to say, that Damen is the only company existing right now that has the system that with one pass through the system has an absolute zero life result. There is no other system available right now that offers that.

If you could name the one technology that has most significantly transformed the BWTS, what would it be?

I think that is our system, in a sense that it’s a combination of using the absolute best filtration systems with UV lighting. All other systems either use filtration or use UV, some systems use chemicals, but I think the chemicals are not the way forward and certainly not with the environmental sensitivity of these chemicals.

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