Saudi approval for Aqua Tools’ B-Aqua ballast water testing kit

The Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has confirmed that aqua-tools’ B-QUA ballast water analysis kit will be included in the list of recommended equipment for use by ballast water testing providers affiliated to Saudi Aramco contracted shipping agents.

B-QUA is an indicative test capable of analysing all three ballast water factions – bacteria, 10-50µm, and >50µm – onboard ship in less than 40 minutes.

As a first step, prior to a detailed analysis for compliance, an indicative analysis of ballast water discharge may be undertaken to establish whether a ship is potentially in compliance with the Convention” IMO BWM.2/Circ.42/Rev.1 28 May 2015.

The Saudi Administration decided to widen the scope of ballast water sampling to all commercial ports in Saudi Arabia. Previously, ballast water sampling was only undertaken in ports operated by Saudi Aramco, the national energy company.

Saudi Aramco’s Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has set itself a target to collect as much sample data as possible with regard to the effectiveness of ships’ ballast water management systems (BWMS). EPD says that data collection will continue until at least September 2019, while the industry is going through an experience building phase with regard to BWMS.

The EPD set certain standards for sampling equipment to be used in this exercise and the inclusion of the B-QUA equipment demonstrates that it meets all EPD technical requirements in relation to data and report integrity/security.

aqua-tools’ CEO Marc Raymond said: “The EPD states that the B-QUA approval includes the associated luminometer provided by aqua-tools. We will provide all users in Saudi Arabia with simple instructions about how to use the Lumicloud app on a mobile phone or tablet and how to print the report direct from the app with a suitable portable printer.”

The Saudi Government is currently developing its national legislation on BWMS, which will include indicative sampling approval processes. When this legislation is finalised, it may be necessary for sampling systems to enter a further approval phase depending on the data collected during EPD’s evaluation process and whether additional criteria need to be added.

Carine Magdo (pictured), aqua-tools’ Business Development Manager, said that the B-QUA test kit has certain advantages compared to other systems on the market.

“Most current sampling methods look only for phytoplankton in the >10 to <50µm band. However, the IMO process used to validate BWMS efficiency requires analysis of three factions: bacteria, 10-50µm, and >50µm. If only one group is analysed, it merely proves that the treatment is effective on that one faction, and not the others, meaning that the system may be non-compliant on one or two factions. This gives no overall guarantee of treatment efficiency, and neither can it guarantee compliance with the detailed analysis on each group.

Ms Magdo added: “Non-compliance of the >50µm fraction can indicate problems with the BWMS filtration unit, such as blocked filters or the need for replacement parts. Non-compliance in the 10-50µm and bacteria groups can indicate problems with the disinfection unit, for example incorrect chemical dosage, a dirty of fused UV lamp, or blocked valves. A fully working BWMS will demonstrate low levels of microorganisms in all factions.”

Furthermore, depending the location and season, it is possible for zero presence of phytoplankton in the sea water, which is why some testing labs may have trouble in performing the type approval protocol.

“B-QUA is the only kit on the market capable of measuring all the viable and living organisms in each group, with the same technology, and in less than one hour, to establish ship compliance or non-compliance,” said Ms Magdo.