Safe Bulkers returns to Alfa Laval for more scrubbers

Alfa Laval PureSOx being assembled
Alfa Laval PureSOx exhaust gas cleaning systems; Image credit: Alfa Laval

Greek shipowner Safe Bulkers has placed an order for additional Alfa Laval PureSOx exhaust gas cleaning systems bringing the number of vessels to be fitted with the systems to 25.

The company has just installed its 21st PureSOx scrubber, and four more retrofits are scheduled through the first half of 2023. Namely, the company will retrofit an open-loop PureSOx system on the MV Pelopidas, and four Capesize bulk carriers: MV Aghia Sofia, MV Lake Despina, MV Maria and MV Michalis H.

Alfa Laval’s deliveries for the vessels, which are each roughly 180,000 DWT in capacity, will extend from November 2022 to April 2023. The systems will be covered with a comprehensive Alfa Laval Service Agreement. The deal comprises spare parts packages, sensor exchanges, connectivity etc.

“When we first made the choice to retrofit Alfa Laval PureSOx systems in 2018, we were convinced that it was a good investment,” says Dr Loukas Barmparis, President of Safe Bulkers.

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“Today’s increased price difference between low-sulphur and high-sulphur fuel shows that we were correct. We are protecting our margins in a time of uncertainty while simultaneously protecting the environment. Through comprehensive sampling of effluent wash water from open-loop scrubber systems, independent laboratories using EPA or ISO methods have shown that there is little or no impact from the wash water concentrations.”

As disclosed, the previous PureSOx retrofit projects have all gone smoothly, and the systems themselves have lived up to the promised high performance.

“Retrofitting large equipment like a scrubber will always involve challenges,” says Barmparis. “What makes the difference is the supplier’s commitment to finding a solution. Having already done 21 retrofits with Alfa Laval, we can say with confidence that the cooperation works – just like the PureSOx technology. Both the support and the results are consistently excellent.”

“Service is an important safeguard, and we know that we can rely on Alfa Laval’s expertise.”

Aside from scrubber retrofits, the shipping company continues the install ballast water treatment systems (BWTS) and so far 42 out of 44 existing vessels have been fitted with BWTS. Safe Bulkers also revealed that it was pursuing a vessel environmental upgrade program during dry-dockings, worth $3.3 million for 2022 and $7.6 million for 2023. This involves upgrades including the application of low-friction paints and installation of energy-saving devices.

As of November 2022, the company’s fleet counts 44 vessels, consisting of 12 Panamax, 8 Kamsarmax, 16 Post-Panamax, and 8 Capesize vessels with an aggregate capacity of 4.5 million dwt and an average age of 10.6 years. The shipowner has nine newbuilds on order designed to meet the IMO GHG Phase 3 –
NOx Tier III regulations.