Environmental considerations and technical port
design are intertwined.
Emmanuel Diacos, Senior Project Manager for Caltex, speaks to Bryan Camoens on the
considerations required in order to prepare the prefeasibility study for future works and
the key factors need to be taken into account when specifying the process from
preliminary design to final design.
What are some of the current and upcoming regulations that will Impact future
port developments in Vietnam?
The current regulation controlling port development in Vietnam is the Maritime Code of
Vietnam which has been in place since 1990. When this code was passed Vietnam was
embarking on a period of renewal. As the strategy to implement a market economy was
still unclear to the Vietnamese Government this code contains restrictions upon seagoing
ships especially for overseas routes. Only permanent Vietnamese citizens could register
ships in Vietnam, for example.
The Code has not designated an agency responsible for issuing regulations or taking
action against seagoing ships in Vietnam. In practice the Code has not been applied to
foreign vessels as it is difficult to enforce.
There is inadequate coverage of maritime safety and the prevention of marine pollution.
The lack of currency of maritime safety provisions is of particular concern.
There have been insufficient revisions to keep pace with changes to international law
including ship owner’s civil liabilities for maritime claims. With increasing international
trade the rights of all parties including Vietnamese importers and exporters are poorly
Nguyen Thi Nhu Mai, Deputy Director of the Vietnam National Maritime Bureau, Legal
has proposed a number of amendments to the Code. These amendments will bring the
Code up to date with international maritime law and generally assist in the development
of maritime commerce.
In regards to ports he has proposed that the Code include provisions for the State
management of maritime shipping as well as business activities conducted in ports’ land
areas. He has also suggested that there be provisions which cover: the investment in the
development of seaport infrastructure; management and lease of the commercial
operation of port infrastructure; management of loading and unloading; and storage
Specific changes to the Code, which are recommended by Nguyen Thi Nhu Mai, are:
• Provisions regarding the functions and classification of ports.
• Principles for the planning and development of the port system, investment,
building and commercial operation of ports.
• Provisions on the opening and closure of ports, maritime safety, maritime security
and prevention of environmental pollution in ports.
• Provisions on the functions and tasks of the authorities performing the specialized
State management over maritime activities in seaports, principles for coordination of
activities of specialized State management bodies in ports.
To remove inappropriate concepts like “navigable zone.”
In your opinion, what are some of the considerations required in order to prepare
the prefeasibility study for future works?
A pre-feasibility study should include consideration of:
1. Existing and future regulations that may affect the development
2. Identification of all stakeholders including regulatory authorities
3. Approvals required including time and cost
4. Potential environmental impacts
5. On ecosystem
6. Coastal hydrology
7. On existing infrastructure and inhabitants
8. On proposed shipping
9. Physical limitations on port development
10. Dredging requirements
11. Existing topography
12. Geotechnical data
13. Population growth
14. Logistical issues
15. Local construction and operation capabilities
16. Current and proposed infrastructure
What key factors need to be taken into account when specifying the process from
preliminary design to final design?
Effective continuity throughout the entire process including the design phase can be
achieved by engaging a single project manager with the desired range of experience. An
effective communicator, with sound design knowledge and excellent project management
skills, is required.
The process should be project managed from inception with the project team evolving as
requirements change. The project manager can create a project team organisational chart
that varies in accordance with the demands of the project. Personnel changes should be
linked to the activity requirements in the schedule.
Before proceeding to the detailed design it should be confirmed that the preliminary
design proposed is constructible. Even at this early stage the project manager should
involve a suitable contractor, and key stakeholder representatives, as part of a
Review of the design, as it progresses, should allow for continuous feedback to avoid
costly rework and delays. With a well resourced and structured design team, that has
adequate supervision, reviews should be continuous. Formal discipline and inter-
discipline reviews should occur at the 50%, 75% and 100% stages. Specific design and
construction experience should be applied in performing these reviews.
How can you gain multi-stakeholder buy-in to maximise the service and use that the
port will provide?
The key to multi stakeholder buy-in is engagement of all representatives from inception,
and continuous effective communication.
Regular meetings with key stakeholders, used to review progress and address issues
early, create a team approach. Contact and support outside of the meetings is easier to
achieve due to the positive relationships created by the meeting process.
Appropriate filtering is required to separate the project development process from
information that can be distributed. For example, stakeholders should be informed of
feasible design proposals without being concerned by rejected scenarios that may cause
What are some of the modern technological innovation and techniques in the design
of marine structures that could positively impact the maritime industry?
Although owners and operators of port facilities may justifiably focus on project
completion dates and proposed port capacity figures operability throughout the design
life of 30+ years must also be considered. Expensive lessons learnt from the repair of
maritime structures have not only led to new repair methods and materials being created
but the development of materials and equipment less likely to need repair during their
Impressed current cathodic protection and sacrificial anodic systems continue to improve
with less expensive systems and application methods being developed. Concrete mix
design is evolving including polymer modified mixes. There have been some significant
advances in concrete additives and coatings, including moisture barriers and pore
blocking. Plastics, especially high density polymers, can replace timber fenders and act as
low friction ship contact pads. Polyurea coatings can created UV stabilised, chemically
impermeable, in any shape. Fibreglass stair treads and platforms can replace steel,
especially in the highly corrosive splash zones. Structural and reinforcing steel properties
continue to improve and new coating systems for steel are more effective.
Of course, design software, and hardware processing ability, has more than kept up with
the technological advances.
Could you please outline the technical and environmental considerations in ports
and shipping that should be taken into account in the design phase?
Environmental considerations and technical port design are intertwined.
When considering any port development the potential impact upon water quality, coastal
hydrology, noise, vibration, air quality, existing development and habitation, should be
assessed. All of these factors must be considered as part of the design process. These
factors may be influenced by the construction techniques required to implement the
proposed design or the operation of the port. Constructability reviews should therefore
encompass consideration of these factors. Pile driving may have a negative effect on
aquaculture while the piles themselves provide a new habitat, for example. In another
example, a proposed development which requires dredging may result in the redirection
of wave action causing either accretion or removal of sand from the foreshore.
Risks from commercial shipping including the handling of toxic substances, bunkering,
handling of ballast, noise impacts, and damage to sea grasses from propeller action, can
be reduced or eliminated by the design process.
Where do you see the evolution of the ports planning and design over the next few
The surge in port development particularly in the Asian region will increase the
experience and capability of available port planners, project managers and designers.
Lessons learnt in a competitive market should streamline and improve the project
management and design process. Project managers, including their design teams, if given
adequate freedom by port owners and operators, will be able to apply their improved
skills to reduce schedule time and project cost while improving quality.
The development of new low maintenance materials and equipment will contribute to the
reduction in the cost of structural elements and overall cost of port infrastructure. Less
maintenance will lead to less down time and increased profitability.
Constantly improving planning and design software, operated by experienced personnel,
will have the added benefit of improving stakeholder commitment by providing more
effective communication tools including 3D modelling.
Emmanuel Diacos is a speaker at Port Planning & Design Asia. For more details on the
conference please visit www.portplanningasia.com or drop an email to