With the popular ideas about installation difficulties
and maintenance with regards to scrubbers coupled with pricing too becoming
increasingly favourable, scrubbers are
fast gaining ground with the ship owners for adoption to become
IMO’s new regulations compliant.
The IMO will cap sulfur in marine fuels at 0.5%
worldwide starting January 1, 2020, from 3.5% currently. This applies outside
designated emission control areas where the limit is already 0.1%.
Shipowners will be forced to either switch to using
cleaner, more expensive fuels or to install scrubbers.
The industry expects some 10,000 ships to have
scrubbers by 2025, Donald Gregory, director at the Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems
Association (EGCSA) has said in an interview to S&P Global Platts.
This represents another spike in their adoption since
their heydays, with over 1,000 ships having ordered or installed scrubbers
worldwide as of May 31, 2018, compared with some 300-400 ships in 2016, he
Some shipping companies such as Spliethoff, Frontline,
DHT and Star Bulk have already taken the lead by opting for scrubbers, while
many others are mulling over their potential adoption.
The rising interest in scrubbers comes likely from
owners who have looked at the facts, and concluded that vessels of a certain
age, with minimum fuel consumption, the investment makes holistic sense,
Contrary to perception, scrubbers do not require a lot
of maintenance, Gregory said.
“I doubt if there is more than 0.5 man-day per month
required for scrubbers” he said.
Scrubbing is an established technology, Gregory said.
Until relatively recently the largest installed
exhaust handling capacity has been for engine powers in the region of 25 to
However, the latest data shows that this has been well
and truly exceeded by a retrofitted hybrid system for a 72MW container ship
engine, Gregory said, adding that large capacity scrubbers are not confined to
retrofits as the maximum size new building installation is a hybrid system for
a 65MW engine.
Adequate HSFO supply also favors their use as
refineries will continue to produce cheap, high sulfur residual fuels
post-2020, he said.
This is in line with an emerging view that after the
IMO rule is implemented, there will be so much HSFO that it may be cheap enough
to justify scrubbers on pure economics, making them a more attractive option
for compliance and hastening uptake.
“The current $200/mt [approximate price differential
between HSFO and MGO] is viable [for scrubber’s uptake]. In fact lower
differentials may work for some ship-owners who believe that to do nothing is
commercial suicide,” he said.
The difference in price between HSFO and 0.50% sulfur
fuels and the likely advantages of scrubbers when bidding for charters will
continue to be some of the decision factors always for scrubbers, he said.