Port of Fujairah to Ban Open-Loop Scrubbers in Its Waters

The Port of Fujairah, the only multi-purpose port on the East Coast of the UAE, and a major bunkering and energy hub, has decided to ban the use of open-loop scrubbers in its waters.

Illustration; Image Courtesy: Wartsila

“Ships will have to use compliant fuel once the IMO 2020 sulphur cap comes into force,” according to the Port of Fujairah Notice to Mariners No.252 dated January 22, 2019.

The port joins another major bunkering hub in initiatives targeting the use of open-loop scrubbers.

Namely, the Port of Singapore plans to prohibit the discharge of wash water from open-loop exhaust gas scrubbers in its waters as of January 1, 2020.

The move has been attributed to the port’s efforts aimed at protecting marine environment and ensuring port waters are clean. The measure is linked to the fears that the contents of the released wash water include heavy metals and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons, potentially posing a risk to marine life.

As a result, ships fitted with open-loop scrubbers calling at Singapore will be required to use compliant fuel, while ships fitted with hybrid scrubbers will be required to switch to the closed-loop mode of operation.

Separately, Irish Port of Waterford announced that as of the start of January 2019, the discharge of exhaust gas scrubber wash water is prohibited within the limits of the Port of Waterford Company.

This applies to all vessels berthed at any berth within the port’s jurisdiction and vessels on transit to and from any berth or anchorage. Upon entering port limits any vessel fitted with exhaust gas scrubbers, must run on a “closed loop system” for the duration of the port stay.

“Currently there is no assessment of the long term environmental impacts of the use of exhaust gas scrubbers. However, given the potential for impact on ecosystems, it is the policy of the Port of Waterford Company that wash water from exhaust gas scrubber systems shall not be discharged to surface waters within the jurisdiction of the port company,” the port said.

The shipping industry seems to be split on the installation of scrubbers on board ships as a way of meeting the upcoming 2020 sulphur cap.

On the one hand, owners believe that ships with scrubbers are likely to reap fruits from higher charter rates come 2020, as prices of compliant fuels would be much higher than that of high sulphur fuel oil. On the other hand, industry giants, like Euronav, are not convinced high returns can be achieved on considerable upfront capital investment and are concerned about the technology’s environmental impact.

Since the second half of 2018, there has been a major pickup in the ordering of scrubbers ahead of the 2020 sulphur cap, as shipping companies rushed to prepare for the regulation seeing that the hoped delay of its enforcement was out of the question. According to the recent data from DNV GL, there are around 1,850 ships with installed or confirmed scrubber systems installations. What is more, DNV GL estimates that 2,500 of ships would be fitted with scrubber systems by 2020.

World Maritime News Staff