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2019 August 22

Scrubbers stand to their colours

Although some large ports worldwide impose bans on open loop scrubbers and closed ones feature high price and weight, global shipping industry continues equipping ships with scrubbers while scientists emphasize larger emissions of green house gases during the production of low sulfur fuel as compared with that of high sulfur content.

Broad-minded approach

Members of the Clean Shipping Alliance 2020 formed last year have welcomed a study on exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) published by Norway’s SINTEF, one of Europe’s largest independent research organisations. According to the study findings, the continued use of HSFO or HFO (heavy fuel oil) with an EGCS is the most environmentally beneficial means of meeting global Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets.

The research findings indicate that two-stroke engines with Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) and scrubbers represent the most cost- and GHG-effective way of meeting both IMO Tier 3 NOx rules and the 2020 sulphur cap.

The scientists opine that based on the energy consumed during the global production of distillate fuels, the continued use of residual fuel will have a positive impact on global GHG emissions, given the energy required to produce distillates would result in higher levels of CO2 being released into the atmosphere.

Ian Adams, CSA2020 Executive Director, said the industry has long realised that there is an energy penalty differential in the production of fuels. “Using higher sulphur fuels with an exhaust gas cleaning system will have a beneficial impact on the global reduction of sulphur and nitrogen oxides emissions, and also on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” said Adams.

According to Adams there is also a significant benefit from reduced particulates in emissions.

Monetary vote

Despite the pessimism of many experts regarding application of scrubbers, exhaust gas cleaning systems are in demand especially in view of the 2020 sulphur cap. In June 2019, the technology group Wärtsilä and COSCO Shipping Heavy Industry signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) covering the development of local production resources, thus ensuring further development and support of Wärtsilä’s exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) in the region.

Scrubbers are increasingly popular with large tanker companies. Depending on a ship class, average scrubber price is $4-$5 million including installation that takes up to half a year.

As for the domestic market, it feature a juridical conflict caused by the requirements of the Technical Regulation of the Customs Union. According to the document in force, restrictions are to be introduced from 2020 on production and transportation of fuel not complying with 0.5% sulphur cap within the territory and water areas of the Customs Union. In particular, that creates a problem for ships with scrubbers since they will not be able to accept and use high-sulfur fuel in the states of the Customs Union. Therefore, one of the vertically-integrated oil companies, has addressed the Ministry of Energy with a proposal to exclude fuel intended for ships with scrubbers from environmental restrictions and to extend the period of distribution for fuel with sulfur content of up to 1.5% till 31 December 2023.

Certainly, all of the aforesaid does not cancel considerable disadvantages of using scrubbers covered earlier >>>>. Yet, it shows that implications of marine fuel standards toughening are still imponderable. The pessimism seen today in respect of using scrubbers is quite possible to be replaced with optimism in the future, especially if international regulators apply a more comprehensive approach to global environmental problems taking into consideration the environmental footprint of the entire cycles of production and use of any fuel.

Vitaly Chernov