Cleaning of oil containing tanks onboard ships at HKC compliant Ship Recycling Facilities
Vessels are constructed with multiple tanks to store lube oils, fuel oils, and sludge. When a vessel is prepared for recycling, the minimum amounts of these oils are kept onboard. When the vessel is delivered to the recycling facility, it contains varying amounts of these oils, although in small quantities in different tanks. Before cutting permission is issued to the vessel, the remaining oils must be removed from the respective tanks as per GMB. Fuel oils and lube oils are sold to subcontractors for further treatment and reuse. The oils are transferred by portable pumps so that minimum unpumpable quantities remain in the tanks. The remaining oil is removed manually by draining the tanks. The oil spill containment kit is always kept on standby during the oil transfer and cleaning. All precautions are taken while performing man entry to these tanks. Thorough ventilation is carried out, and the atmosphere is checked with gas meters by a safety officer to check adequate oxygen (20.9%) and the absence of combustible/hazardous gases. The enclosed space permits are filled to eliminate any errors. The workers use adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in tank entry. The unpumpable oil is manually collected, and tanks are internally cleaned.
Finally, sand is used to absorb the stains of oils from the internal tank surfaces. The oil-drenched sand is collected in HDPE bags, and bags are handed over to Gujarat Enviro Protection and Infra Ltd. (GEPIL). Adequate infrastructure is developed at GEPIL facilities to dispose of the sand in an environmentally friendly way. The use of sand ensures that oil is completely removed, and ventilation ensures tanks are completely gas free. Furthermore, the application of sand ensures that the tank is not reused for any purpose. The yard owners have developed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for preparing vessels gas free for hot work. The cutting permission is issued after the vessel is made gas free for hot work.
Many of you may have seen the recently published story in Tradewinds, reporting on a few COVID cases in our GMS Dubai office. We wish to clarify that GMS had not provided any official comment to the news publisher’s queries, although the reported cases in our office are indeed indicative of the rising number of cases currently being experienced in the UAE.
Firstly, we wish to thank all our well-wishers who have reached out to us, and we can report that we are both grateful and thankful that the health of the few staff that have tested positive is not in any critical danger. Many of them only experiencing mild symptoms, and are well on their way to a speedy and healthy recovery. We continue to monitor their health and progress.
We also wish to thank those in our office for taking quick action to ensure the safety of others who were not affected in the office, whilst ensuring minimal disruptions to our business operations.
We are following the applicable UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention protocols, to ensure that normal physical operation in the office resume as soon as possible. All staff has undergone the relevant testing procedures and we expect the office to resume normally in due course.
Although some of our staff are working from home, we are pleased to confirm that this has not had any adverse impact whatsoever on our normal commercial and business operations. We remain committed and continue to deliver and provide our usual services as normal to all our stakeholders, clients, and business associates. We are proud that even during the height of the pandemic and throughout 2020, the fact that GMS was responsible for almost 44% of recycling deals of the total tonnage recycled in the Indian sub-continent last year, is only testament to GMS’s core principles of Trust and Integrity, which even now in 2021, remains strong and unflinching.
GMS continues to look forward to another prosperous and successful 2021, even in the face of the continuing global COVID pandemic, and we wish all of our readers a safe and healthy year ahead.
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Safe Accesses to the ships at HKC compliant Ship Recycling Facilities
Ships specific Ship Recycling Plans (SRP) are prepared for the vessel delivered to the HKC compliant recycling yards. Ships are cut into slices as per the SRP, keeping stability in mind. The most important aspect of recycling ships is ACCESS to the ship and its structures during the recycling process. Recycling facilities face high tide and low tide regularly, which affects the safe access to the ships.
The ship's bulbous bow is the first point of entry to the vessel. A window is cut at the bulbous bow to get access to the vessel. A firm ladder with handrails is secured from the jetty of the recycling facility to the bulbous bow. Similarly, multiple windows are cut at different locations on the hull for ventilation purposes. The vessel is permitted to start cutting by the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB). As the cutting progresses, the ship's hull is pulled towards the yard. The access ladder is also continuously adjusted and secured to ensure safe access.
Occasionally steel plates are used for accessing vessels depending upon the height difference from the jetty to the ship. Barricades are installed to limit the walking boundaries.
Tiger tapes are used to barricade the areas to indicate workers about 'No Go Areas' on the ship's structures during the cutting process. Similar ladders are secured within the vessel's hull for intermediate deck access.
The recycling facility's safety officer confirms that access to the ship's hull is safe before commencing the work. Logs are maintained at the entry point to the vessel to account for the workers working onboard the vessel. Workers are not allowed to board the vessel without adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
HKC compliant recycling yards are continuously improving the working practices to make ship recycling sustainable.
Cleaning of oil stained sections at HKC compliant recycling facilities.
Ships delivered to HKC compliant recycling yards are cut as per ship specific Ship Recycling Plan. Any type of ship has various tanks to store lube oils, fuel oils, sludge, and bilge water. The main engine and aux engine crankcases contain lube oils. Fuel oils and lube oils are recovered and resold in the local market. Sludge and bilge water are disposed of as per the Gujarat Enviro Protection Infra Limited (GEPIL) guidelines. The empty tank bottoms are spread with the sand to absorb any uncleaned oil, and the oily sand is disposed of at landfills.
Sections of these tanks contain oil stains. The onboard oily block is cleaned as practicable as possible along the cutting line, and then the cut block is lifted directly from the vessel using crawler cranes and placed on an oily block cleaning zone. The HSE officer conducts a cleanliness inspection before lifting the block from the vessel and cleaning the block at the oily block cleaning zone. Photographic evidence of before and after the cleaning of blocks is maintained at the recycling facility. The cleaned block is moved to the cutting area (secondary or tertiary) for further cutting into truck loadable sizes of steel plates.
The oily block cleaning area has an impermeable floor and drainage system. Chemical detergents are applied to the oily blocks, and blocks are washed with the water. The wash water is collected via a drainage system in the underground tank.
Collected wash water contains chemical detergent and oil, therefore it is disposed of in GEPIL. GEPIL has adequate infrastructure to treat the oily bilge water.
While recycling oil tankers, it is a regular practice to clean oil-stained steel sections at designated cleaning zones to make them oil-free. Similarly, sections of the main engine and aux engine crankcases are cleaned at oily block cleaning zones.
Recycling facilities are equipped with oil spill containment kits. These kits have an adequate inventory of oil spill containment material such as oil absorbent pads, sawdust, boom, shovels, oil-resistant gloves, disposable overalls, waste bags, etc.
SOPs are developed and regular drills are conducted at recycling facilities to contain oil spills. HKC compliant yards contain the equipment and facilities to protect the soil from oil contamination because of the oil-stained steel sections.
2020 was a rollercoaster year for recycling and shipping markets across the globe. The impact of Covid started to really take hold in the second quarter of the year with virtually all ports closing for 'as is' deliveries and sub continent recycling locations also shutting down for the delivery / beaching of units as virus cases surged. Seafarers and ships were stranded at sea as recycling markets tumbled by around USD 150/LDT from above USD 400/LDT to much below USD 300/LDT. Local yards closed and labourers returned to home towns as stay at home notices were observed and activity came to a standstill for a period of 2-3 months.
From the end of May / June onwards and with the impact of severe lockdowns in India and elsewhere starting to be felt, activity slowly resumed with greater care taken towards health and safety and preventing the spread of an easily transmissible virus. Finally, vessels stuck at sea for a period of months were allowed to beach, albeit at much reduced prices.
Slowly but surely prices started to improve, first in Pakistan, then in India, and finally Bangladesh as demand and raw material started to shift from local plots once again. Pakistan indeed came back to the table after a period of almost two years on the sidelines due to safety concerns and closures following several accidents on tankers and a historical currency crisis that gripped the country. With prices surging up into the mid 300s/LDT again come the third quarter of the year, a short lived cartel was formed in Bangladesh to try and control prices. This only resulted in vessels being pushed towards a rampant Pakistan and India market until frustrations started to tell and the cartel fell apart.
Towards the end of 2020, Bangladesh therefore became the market to watch again as prices came up above USD 400/LDT to regain much of the ground lost and more over the course of the year and both India and Pakistan followed in hot pursuit as steel prices soared to new record highs with China starting to import again following the iron ore ban from Australia.
The prospects for 2021 therefore look bright as all markets currently trade in the mid USD 400s/LDT and above again.
Jamie Dalzell, Senior Trader, GMS Singapore
Established in 1992 in historic Cumberland, MD. (U.S.A), GMS is the world's LARGEST and FIRST ISO 9001 certified Cash Buyer of ships for recycling. With exclusive representatives in all of the major ship recycling markets in the world, GMS has negotiated about 3,500 ships for recycling since inception. In addition to its original office in the United States of America, the company continues to expand its operations with offices in Hamburg (Germany), Athens (Greece), Dubai (UAE), India (Bhavnagar), Singapore, Seoul (Korea), Shanghai (China) and Tokyo (Japan).
P.O. Box 346041, Suite 101,
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