Although installation costs of ballast water management systems (BWMSs) are considerable – estimates by shipowner organisation BIMCO suggest up to US$5 million per ship – these sums could be dwarfed by operational costs over the ship’s lifetime.
In determining the total lifetime costs, owners will have to factor in the cost of consumables and spare parts, as well as monitoring to ensure that the systems are doing their job in keeping the ship compliant.
Many manufacturers are conscious of operational costs and have attempted to keep consumable parts and materials to a minimum. For example, Evoqua’s business development manager Ed McNally said: “We designed the SeaCure system with maximum uptime in mind. Nevertheless, owners and operators may need to devote a minimal amount of voyage time for routine maintenance and visual inspection to ensure the BWMS is kept in good operational condition.”
He explained that definitive costs vary with system size and management approach, but Evoqua can supply a five-year spare parts package and its 40-year experience with electrochlorination cells in other industries allows Evoqua to offer a long warranty on the core components.
Ecochlor’ president and founder, Tom Perlich, offered some specific guidelines for the running costs of its chemical-based system, suggesting figures of US$0.08/m3 for precursor chemical, while fuel costs typically range from US$25 to US$200 per annum depending on flow rate and power requirement. Chemicals are supplied about every six months and their cost starts at US$0.08/m3 of treated water, he said.
In addition, there are maintenance costs, and he recommends that owners budget approximately US$2,000 annually for miscellaneous maintenance activities. Filters will also need replacing at intervals of between five and ten years, with a replacement cost ranging between US$3,600 and US$12,500 per screen.
Mark Riggio, product manager for Hyde Marine, believes that system reliability is key to keeping compliance costs under control. “We have over 10 years of experience with systems in operation and reach out to all users, incorporating their feedback directly in our design,” he said. “The equipment is designed to be very simple to repair and troubleshoot, with alarms and indications incorporated to show any component or system malfunction, and offer detailed instructions to shipboard crews.”
Coldharbour Marine’s commercial manager Phil Hughes shares the view that inherent reliability is needed to give confidence over the life of the equipment. “Our system is inherently reliable as the in-tank elements have few or no moving parts. Our inert gas generator, which provides the gas for BW treatment, has no burner cone to be replaced and no demister pads to block and replace. Few spare parts are needed; we have no filters, no UV lamps and no electrodes to decay or need replacing.”
Mark Kustermans, market manager at Trojan Marinex, said that owners must carefully consider operational expenditure, particularly if they decide to keep a vessel for more than about five years, when replacement components become necessary. “Annual expenses can range from 3 per cent to more than 15 per cent of the capital cost,” he said.
But he said that all BWMS technologies have some operational benefits that can minimise operational costs. “Our system is equipped with TrojanUV Solo Lamp technology, with a life expectancy beyond 10,000 hours, equivalent to more than 10 years of normal ballast water treatment operation,” he said. This compares with typical medium-pressure lamps that have a life expectancy of 4,000 hours, he added.
Mr Kustermans also stressed the importance of regular discharge sampling and calibration of sensors to the cost of compliance. He cited the US Environmental Protection Agency’s 2013 vessel general permit, which specifies a schedule of independent monitoring, two to four times per year, with annual calibration of monitoring equipment. “This dual compliance requirement for all active substance systems – biological and residual biocide monitoring – increases the cost of compliance over physical treatment methods, such as UV, and is an additional consideration when evaluating technologies.”
Operational costs also played a part in Maersk Line’s decision last year to fit at least 14 of Desmi Ocean Guard’s RayClean treatment systems on a series of new container vessels to be built at Cosco Zhoushan shipyard in China.
The system uses low pressure UV, which Desmi said has low power consumption, and Rasmus Folsø, chief executive of Desmi Ocean Guard, commented at the time: “Total Cost of Ownership analysis have shown us that the RayClean system will provide considerable operational cost savings to Maersk Line compared to competing systems, due to the low power consumption and long lifetime of the UV lamps.”