Ship Repair Yards Challenged to Meet Requirements While Keeping Costs Low

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May 10, 2012

International environmental regulations for the shipping industry are being tightened and demanding a reduction of the emissions of sulphur and nitrous oxide. In order to fulfill these demands, many of which come from the UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO), shipping companies are pushed to upgrade their fleets with latest systems and technologies to help meet future requirements and reduce harmful emissions.

Similar to shipowners, ship repair and conversion yards are now challenged to keep installation costs as low as possible while still meeting the challenges of future requirements.  Here is a look at what one family of shipyards, Damen Shipyards Group, is doing to meet this demand:

Lowering Costs

“We try to keep installation costs at the lowest possible levels to mitigate the high costs experienced by ship owners due to new environmental demands”, says Jos Goris, Managing Director of Damen Shiprepair Götaverken. “Even though this is fully in line with our own philosophy of operating in a sustainable way, this is quite a challenge for us. Nonetheless, we feel we’re up to it! Furthermore, it gives us the opportunity to develop new ways of cooperating with our Scandinavian suppliers and we experience a knowledge increase, which has a positive effect on our workforce.”

The tanker, Bit Oktania, in dry dock.

Already, Damen Shiprepair Götaverken (Gothenburg, Sweden) has taken an interest in the new rebuilding requirements that come into force in 2015. Currently in dry dock for regular maintenance, the tanker ‘Bit Oktania’ from Tarbit Shipping is simultaneously being upgraded by the installation of a catalyzer system to meet future environmental demands.

SOx Emission Control Areas

Mr Goris comments: “There are several ways of fulfilling the new demands. For some, vessels don’t really need to be dry docked in order to install new systems, although many shipping lines choose to combine the installation with the statutory dry docking. Since we have over one kilometer of quay, we can manage the installation of catalyzers or exhaust scrubber systems at any suitable time for our customers. Other methods involve more serious investments, for example converting a vessel to run on alternative fuels. Whatever the solution chosen by a ship owner, we realize it involves a cost that wasn’t there a few years ago. Therefore, we’re specializing in this field, both technically and financially. This enables us to work closer and more efficiently together with our customers, not only in doing our regular maintenance and repair work, but also in finding the most economical solution for their needs.”

Even though the IMO provides international standards to regulate shipping, it is often up to individual countries that can set tougher demands than those determined internationally. This goes especially for EU-countries and the USA, where there is great and public pressure for increasingly stringent environmental requirements. As a result, a number of new environmental regulations will have to be implemented by ship owners in the coming years. Some apply in a first stage to the northern European part of the world, in the so-called ‘SOx Emission Control Areas’ (SECA) and are primarily aimed at reducing nitrous oxide emissions. The SECA area currently includes the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the English Channel.

Damen Shipyards Group

Damen Shipyards Group is a family-owned company founded in 1927 in The Netherlands that has since grown to include 37 owned shipyards and numerous partner yards.  The company is known for its standardisation and modular construction that leads to short delivery times, low ‘total cost of ownership’, high resale value, proven technology and reliable performance.

Damen currently employs over 6,000 people worldwide and can deliver up to 150 vessels annually.

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