Boskalis jaarverslagen 2011


We always seek to achieve the best possible balance between economic and ecological values in our projects and contracts. Our objectives are targeted on the aspects where we can add the most value: the further expansion of our environmental expertise, the provision of eco-dynamic designs and the ongoing investment in and deployment of environmentally friendly equipment.

Environmental expertise

Our clients can rely on our environmental expertise. Our environmental expertise has the greatest added value in projects where we are brought in early at the design stage as a partner to the client.

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But we also seek to apply environmentally friendly working methods and techniques in executing our projects and contracts, and are able to draw on over 100 experts from our R&D and other departments as well as engineers and ecologists from our own engineering consultancy Hydronamic.

The sustainable applications we offer our clients are in some cases complex and innovative. Eco-dynamic designs according to the Building with Nature philosophy are a good example. Another example is our innovative approach to protecting coral reefs, as applied on the Khalifa Port project in Abu Dhabi where we developed a major offshore port close to the largest coral reef in the Persian Gulf (see our 2010 CSR report). But sometimes only minor adjustments are involved, such as suggesting that a new beach is constructed on a slightly less smaller incline so that it remains accessible to sea turtles.

Our expertise can also be called in for the remediation of contaminated sediment. Our subsidiary Boskalis Dolman executes noteworthy soil remediation projects around the world, and in doing so seeks to re-use as much material as possible.

SMIT has been instrumental in developing new solutions for the safe, pollution-free removal of cargo and bunkers from casualties.
The hot-tap technology guarantees a spill-free extraction of any contained fluids either above or under water from vessels aground or sunk at water depths up to at least 250 meters. Amongst others, the hot-tap technology is applied to remove the pollutants from the grounded Costa Concordia, Italy, 2012. The POLREC system is applied to remove oil and chemicals from vessels lying on the seabed in very deep water, without the assistance of divers and in an environmentally safe manner. The system uses a ROLS unit (Remote-operated Offloading System) for the recovery of pollutants at water depths up to 500 meters. Further developments in the near future will significantly improve productivity and efficiency and allow the system to work at even greater depths up to at least 1,000 meters.

Research and knowledge sharing

In order to maintain our leading role we invest in fundamental and applied research on an ongoing basis. Our research focuses on limiting our ecological impact by reducing emissions (see elsewhere in this section) and mitigating turbidity during dredging projects. During dredging work the seabed is churned up and the resulting temporary reduction in the incidence of light in the water can be harmful to underwater plant and animal life. By developing advanced forecasting models and monitoring programs we are able to analyse the turbidity at any given time and adjust the execution of the work accordingly.

To give a further boost to knowledge exchange and awareness, in 2011 we launched an environment portal. Working groups dealing with sustainability issues can use the web application to share information so that we develop an active ‘Community of Practice’ in this area. We engage in external knowledge sharing through lectures, guest lecturer positions, readerships and presentations, and by participating in fundamental research programs and supervising committees of PhD students.

In addition SMIT is increasingly being asked to participate in and contribute expertise and knowledge to ambitious, large-scale Joint Industry Projects like OBELICS. The knowledge and tools developed are used to increase operational safety, improve services and reduce the environmental impact. For more information please refer to our CSR 2010 report.

Boskalis also contributes to the dissemination of knowledge through the Building with Nature program described in this section. For example in 2011 a dual lecturership was established between Delft University of Technology and Wageningen University aimed at providing further structure to the innovation and broadening of the discipline. This innovation, initiated by Boskalis, has been embraced by both universities. The knowledge exchange regarding the Building with Nature program gathered pace in 2011. The draft version of the ‘Eco-dynamic design manual’ has been completed. The manual, which contains general guidelines that can be applied anywhere in the world, will be published on the Ecoshape website ( In May 2011 Ecoshape held a mid-term conference at which all the results to date were presented to partners and clients. The closing conference is scheduled for November 2012, at the end of the first planning period, when we want to share all the results of the first five years of Building with Nature with a wide audience.

Eco-dynamic design

Hydraulic engineering is directly linked to our environment which means that all over the world the environmental effects of hydraulic engineering projects are under close and constant scrutiny.

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During the various development stages in a project, from its design up to and including the realization and maintenance stage, experts are assessing whether it meets requirements. This is a good thing, in Boskalis’ opinion. However, this international assessment has many practical drawbacks. Conflicting interests and differences in the interpretation of environmental legislation and regulations mean that interested parties are often pitched against one another in arduous legal proceedings, with insufficient knowledge about ecological preconditions playing a crucial role. This situation can result in hydraulic engineering projects suffering long delays and in some cases being cancelled altogether. Boskalis sees eco-dynamic design as a possible solution. We are one of the initiators and financiers of Ecoshape, the foundation which executes the Building with Nature innovation program. Within the program we aim to set new, internationally accepted design standards. In this way we contribute towards the sustainable management and development of densely populated river, delta and coastal regions around the world.

In the course of this five-year research program which was launched in 2008 we, along with governments, business, universities, knowledge institutes, civil engineers and consulting firms, port operators and private contractors, are gaining knowledge and experience about the dynamics of nature. The goal is to develop hydraulic engineering projects which also create opportunities for nature by complementing the natural dynamics of the surrounding area. We call this eco-dynamic design. What is special is that this program links up with current or future projects, which means that the knowledge can be put directly to the test in real-life situations.
In the Netherlands the program has already produced various noteworthy results. For example, 2011 saw the delivery of the Sand Motor, a new and innovative way of maintaining the Dutch coastline. A huge quantity of sand was deposited off the coast which will be distributed along the coast of the province of Zuid-Holland by the natural forces of the tide, current and wave action. A subsidy has been granted to intensify the monitoring over the next few years, with doctorate students processing the research data arising from the monitoring into new knowledge.

Another example is the Green Wave-reducing Dike in the Noorderwaard polder in the south-western part of the Netherlands, a pilot project which is part of the Ruimte voor de Rivier (‘Room for the River’) project. Over the next three years the dikes of the polder, which lies to the south of the city of Dordrecht and covers an area of 2,000 hectares, will be lowered over a stretch of several hundred meters and in some places will even be cut. To prevent the local residents from getting wet feet and at the same time spare them having to look out on a high, ungainly new-build dike, a willow forest is to be planted in front of the existing dike. Over a stretch of one kilometer thousands of willow cuttings will be planted in the clay in a 100-meter wide swathe. Every other year these willows will be chopped down so that the stumps produce shoots which will catch a large part of the wash. With regular replacement of the willows they are expected to be able to break up to 80 per cent of the waves’ energy.
If this new method proves to be a success, it can be applied to future dike adjustments which are needed to drain off river and flood water and to cope with more frequent storms.

The research into soft coastal protection in tropical systems using mangroves is still ongoing. It involves looking at a potential future piloting of mangrove forests as a natural form of coastal protection in countries such as Indonesia. We are also looking into broadening our knowledge of the natural reproductive behavior of corals.

Future of Building with Nature

In 2011 the program was designated one of the 14 most promising business cases by the Dutch government program Topsector Water. In November 2011 Ecoshape signed an agreement with the Department of Public Works and the Dutch Association of Water Boards (Unie van Water­schappen) aimed at investigating how we can introduce even more practical solutions to the Department of Public Works and the water boards. This cooperation gives us a head start in the further development of knowledge and applying it, and Boskalis therefore sees the conclusion of the contract as a great step forward. In addition Building with Nature has been included in the innovation contract drawn up in the context of Topsector Water.

Over the past five years we have developed the Building with Nature concept and have shown that it works. At present a follow-up program is being prepared, in which we want to continue along the same lines, combining knowledge and practical cases. We are investing heavily in ‘natural flood barriers’, both in the Netherlands and elsewhere. We also want to look into possible new developments in vulnerable estuaries.

Environmentally friendly equipment

We take targeted measures to ensure we have equipment that enables us to operate with minimum environmental impact.

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In addition to our research and the measures we take to mitigate turbidity and carbon emissions, we and a number of our suppliers have cooperated to develop new systems and applications which have reduced the consumption of lubricants and lubricating oil on our dredgers and other ships. Bilge water separators and ballast water treatment systems are used to clean the bilge and ballast water on our dredging fleet. New tugboats are designed in such a way that they no longer require ballast water tanks.
Together with our foundries we have developed a scrap management program to recycle pump casings, impellers and cutter teeth. In 2011 a total of 265,770 kilos of waste material was recycled.
Because we strive for sustainability throughout the chain we attach great value to the safe and environmentally friendly dismantling of vessels that we take out of service. You can find more information about this on pages 62 and 63 of our 2009 Annual Report. In 2011 we sustainably dismantled four of our large ships: the Cornelia, the Cetus, the Alpha B and the Freeway, as well as some smaller equipment. The Cornelia and Freeway were broken up at a specialized yard in The Netherlands and Belgium respectively. The Alpha B and the Cetus were broken up at a yard in India, which we first visited and then approved following an audit. The shipyard is fully certified by Bureau Veritas and Germanischer Lloyd.

Limiting emissions

The Emissions Taskforce studies ways of reducing pollutant emissions. Led by a member of the Board of Management the Taskforce is composed of a broad range of specialists and professionals from across the organization. In 2011 an environmental officer for the fleet was brought in to serve on the Taskforce along with the environmental officer for the execution of the works who was appointed in 2010. The Taskforce met four times in 2011. Subjects on the agenda included the use of scrubbers, the use of cleaner fuels, research into hybrid engines and weather routing on our ships.

  • Cleaner and more efficient engines: we conduct research into cleaner and more efficient engines. These may be hybrid engines, such as the diesel-electric engines which power our new fallpipe vessel and our hybrid bulldozer.
  • Cleaner fuel: wherever possible our tugs use green shore-side power during their standby periods, whilst our dredgers use low-sulphur fuel in the so-called Sulphur Emission Control Areas. At present we are conducting a feasibility study in cooperation with Aalborg Industries into the use of a so-called scrubber which cleans exhaust fumes and is designed to prevent sulphur emissions. Initial results are positive but further research is still needed.
    We are also looking at the possibilities afforded by cleaner types of fuel such as LNG and biofuel. This is contingent upon local infrastructure being present to enable the bunkering of such fuels.
  • Development of new equipment and adaptation of existing equipment: our new equipment complies with the highest fuel consumption requirements. Where possible we enhance the sustainability of our existing equipment. Research by Dutch institute MARIN into adapting the trim on trailing suction hopper dredgers produced interesting results in 2011. The aim is to minimize resistance when sailing empty, which will have a positive impact on both fuel consumption and emissions. Follow-up research is to be undertaken.
    Lamnalco is involved in a study aimed at designing a hybrid tug using LNG als fuel.
    SMIT has been involved in various research projects to improve the environmental performance of its vessels. The various projects mainly focused on the propulsions system and considered both alternative fuels and system layouts. Through the development of models for environmental impact and life cycle cost assessments, SMIT is now able to provide clients tugs with ‘fit for purpose’ propulsion configurations, incorporating (local) environmental and operational requirements and future emission regulations. The well-known E3 principle serves as a guideline in the design of such new concepts, i.e. designing with an optimum balance between Environmental performance, Efficiency of operations and Economic viability
  • Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan (SEEMP): the main purpose of a SEEMP is to raise crew awareness of on-board energy consumption. Together with our fellow dredgers in the industry association European Dredging Association (EuDA) we are working on formulating clear definitions and measures for a SEEMP for individual ships. Boskalis wants to start introducing SEEMPs on our ships in 2012, which will include a weather routing program. This will enable our ships to determine the best possible sailing route at all times as the program will make recommendations for avoiding certain weather conditions or heavy seas. As well as optimizing safety, this can reduce both voyage times and carbon emissions. After testing various weather routing programs Boskalis signed a contract with Meteo-consult in 2011. The weather routing program has already been introduced on more than 20 of our larger dredging vessels.

Added to My report add to My report Source: CSR Report 2011, Our environmental performance, page 46