Saturday, March 1, 2014

India - Corrosion Management, an Iceberg for Indian Shipping Industry

India envisages growth potential in shipping industry. The capacity expansion would be undertaken across cargo ships segment such as bulk carriers, tankers, etc. New building of ships is to be used for offshore oil & gas exploration, towage and coastal security. On the other hand, there is a greater shipping demand to deal with refurbishment of aged carriers. Industry analysis showed that over 41 per cent of Indian ships having crossed 20 years of operations leading to opportunities worth 20,000 crore in the shipbuilding and ship-repair industry sector. Ships older than 20 years require frequent and extensive repair and maintenance. This augurs well for the 7,300-crore worth shipbuilding industry, according to an analysis of Indian Shipping Fleet: Size, Capacity and Age Composition conducted by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham). It is said that India has a total of 1,122 ships in its fleet and 41 per cent of these, or 466 vessels, fall in the age group of 20 years and more. Considering that the average life of a shipping vessel is about 26 years, most of the existing vessels need to be replaced. An average cost of constructing a large vessel is about USD 100 million. Therefore, the size of this opportunity would be USD 3.3 billion. This whopping figure of refurbishment cost triggers the industrial community to explore the causes for failures.

Although these opportunities are often linked with investment in this sector, this is not a good news for the life cycle analysis and material conservation. How do these failures happen? Corrosion of ship construction materials, the serious concern, often neglected by the industry is paving the way for greater impact in the life cycle cost. Marine fouling is another alarming area that fuels the parameters responsible for corrosion damage. These failures pose greater challenges to the ship owners not only in the materials part, but also leading to high demand for energy consumption and sizeable investment on environmental management.

We see opportunities for establishment of academic and research institutions to effectively deal with developments in nautical science and engineering through various government schemes. But the effective dissemination of life cycle analysis of shipping industry, especially corrosion management, is questionable.

Corrosion Management appears to be an iceberg for shipping industry in India. If the efforts on minimising the life cycle cost through implementing corrosion control methods and appropriate integrity assurance programs are attempted at very slow nautical pace, we will end up in loosing the significant material resources and heavily impacting our marine environment.

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Publication Date: Dec 2013 - Jan 2014

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