Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Japanese Container Shipping and Tanker Group Performs both Environmental and Social Works

From Ballast Water Management Retrofit to Contributing to African Education - MOL Steps Up Again
Shipping News Feature

JAPAN – SOUTH AFRICA – Japanese container shipping and liner group Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL) recently announced completion of work to install a ballast water treatment system on the very large crude oil carrier (VLCC) Libra Trader at Keppel Shipyard in Singapore. On January 10, the company announced plans to install the system on a VLCC ahead of the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) compulsory installation of ballast water management systems.

MOL is the first Japanese shipping company to install such a system for existing VLCC. Keppel Shipyard delivered the vessel on time following the works and the 300,000 dwt Libra Trader has already returned to service whilst the ballast water treatment system will be tested and adjusted during operation. This is also the first installation case to be completed at Singapore, considered by many as the centre of the repair and conversion industry for VLCC’s.

In the case of oil tankers, most of the ballast water treatment system is required to be installed in the pump room, which is very small and particularly narrow and thus requires very high levels of safety and process management. Thorough discussions with the shipyard at every stage of the system installation, from preparation and planning through completion, helped make the work go smoothly. Based on the knowledge and knowhow gained from this installation project, MOL claims it will develop future plans for even smoother execution of planning and installation works.

Ballast water discharged while loading cargo carries marine organisms around the world and can have a negative impact on marine ecosystems and biodiversity. This has become a subject of global concern since the late 1980s. Accordingly, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted the Ballast Water Management Convention in February 2004, and its ratification is now effectively mandatory with all types of vessels having to fall in line with the regulations by 2016.

The company chose the JFE Ballast Ace developed by JFE Engineering Corporation. The project to install the system on the VLCC is part of MOL's approach to ‘contribution to conservation of biodiversity,’ which is one of the company's environmental strategic targets in the midterm management plan GEAR UP! MOL.

The Japanese company has also announced plans to once again assist the non-profit organisation South Africa Primary Education Support Initiative (SAPESI-Japan) with the ocean transport of mobile library vehicles to the Republic of South Africa. MOL has already provided similar such assistance in 2009 and 2010. The company previously transported 24 vehicles, and in this phase, it will transfer eight more with four of them are being transported by MOL’s hybrid car carrier, the Emerald Ace, which departed Japan earlier this month.

On April 16, a ceremony for the departure of eight mobile library vehicles—donated from all over Japan—was held at the South African Embassy in Tokyo, with participants including the Ambassador of the South Africa in Japan Her Excellency Mohau Pheko, Ministry of Foreign Affairs the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary His Excellency Makoto Ito and MOL Executive Vice President Toshitaka Shishido. The mobile libraries, which played an important role in local communities in Japan, will soon gain new lives in visiting elementary and junior high schools in South Africa, contributing to the education of both students and teachers on another continent.

Contribution such as this to the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals is one of the principles of MOL's social contribution activities. These goals aim to achieve measurable targets such as achieving universal primary education and ensuring environmental sustainability by 2015. Just as with other similar logistics groups, MOL proactively undertakes social enrichment activities which only a shipping company with such a global network can.