COVID-19 has affected port operations in various ways, but what about expansion projects and vital dredging campaigns? Ports globally were interviewed about the pandemic's impact. Caroline Price, Royal HaskoningDHV's Green Ports Director was also one of the interviewees. Read here what she has to say on the subject:

The use of dredging in ports and harbours is predominately driven by the functional and operational needs of the facility. These fall into two categories: capital programs for deepening and expanding port areas; and maintenance programs for continued operations. An essential part of keeping navigation channels open, maintenance dredging has continued throughout the pandemic with many countries designating their maritime works essential and those delivering the services ‘key workers’.  

Some capital programs however, like the associated infrastructure projects, have been put on hold. This is partly related to the economic implications of COVID-19 and partly a reflection of the international nature of the dredging sector. COVID-19 related measures in different countries have impacted projects to varying degrees for example. And, although many ports and harbours retain their own plant for maintenance dredging activities, larger scale capital works often involve international contractors with globally deployed fleets.
Restrictions on travel and containment/quarantine rules have introduced difficulties in delivering capital dredging projects this year. Crew changes in particular have become difficult to organise, often resulting in crews spending lengthy periods on board waiting to be relieved by incoming crew.  

Nevertheless, a large number of capital projects – such as the Charleston Harbour deepening in the US and dredging at the ports of Mayaguez and Arecibo in Puerto Rico – which constitute essential infrastructure for reasons of connectivity and economic resilience, have continued. 

Despite these difficulties, dredging contractors have invested in sustainable technology to improve the carbon footprint of their operations. Dredging is an inherently energy-intensive activity and work continues to address the challenge of achieving net zero for this essential element of port operations.  Advances are being made to transition existing dredging fleets to lower carbon fuels such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and eventually to zero emissions via hybrid and alternative fuel technology. 

DEME for example are implementing dual fuel (DF) technology on their new vessels. DF engines are capable of running on LNG, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and almost eliminating Sulphur Oxide (Sox), Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) and particle emissions. The Boskalis fleet meanwhile includes a vessel which runs on 100% biofuel.”

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