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Container ships opting for exhaust scrubbers

Container ship owners are choosing to install “scrubbers” to clean the exhaust gas emitted from ship engines, in order to comply with global regulations that came into force at the start of the year.

The regulation is aimed at reducing the shipping sector’s impact on the environment, and it covers cruise ships, cargo ships, and tankers.

Bermuda-registered or headquartered shipping companies, including Teekay Tankers, Nordic American Tankers, Frontline, and DHT Holdings, are among those affected by the International Maritime Organisation’s 2020 global sulphur regulation which came into force on January 1.

Exhaust gas cleaning systems, also known as scrubbers, remove sulphur oxides from the exhaust fumes generated by combustion in ship engines. Another option for ship owners is to switch from burning heavy fuel oil to using very-low sulphur fuel.

However, scrubbers have proved to be the preferred option for many, particularly among container ship operators.

At the end of last month, the share of the global container ship fleet with scrubbers installed was greater than that of the crude oil tanker fleet, according to a report by the Baltic and International Maritime Council.

Peter Sand, Bimco’s chief shipping analyst, said: “In order to cut the sulphur oxides emission, shipowners who can afford to buy a scrubber have done so to a substantial extent, with investments predominantly directed towards high-consumption ship types.

“Choosing the scrubber option to comply with the sulphur regulation was heavily debated as 1 January 2020 approached. But even with the low bunker fuel price spread between high and very-low sulphur fuels in the current market, it is safe to say that the investments are economically sound.”

Scrubbers cost from about $2 million to $11 million to buy and install, but the open-loop version of the system emit washwater into the sea which, according to the International Council on Clean Transport, is warm, acidic, and contains carcinogens and heavy metals.

Jens Alers, who has in-depth knowledge of shipping matters, and is group director of Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (Bermuda), told The Royal Gazette in February that he believes the liquefied natural gas is the best fuel option for ship propulsion and power plants during the next 25 to 40 years.

Bermuda Container Line’s newest Oleander cargo ship, which went into service in June 2019, has been built so that, if needed, it can be converted to operate on LNG fuel in the future.
Source: Royal Gazette

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