Saudi Arabia bans wash water discharge from open-loop scrubbers

Saudi Ports Authority is the latest port to prohibit discharges of exhaust wash water in its waters from ships fitted with open-loop scrubbers, one of the alternative measures of being compliant with the IMO 2020 Sulphur Cap.

The port authority is acting on instructions received from the General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental protection.

Saudi Ports Authority said that the decision will be in place until an environmental standard is issued in this regard.

As a result, ships operating an open-loop scrubber will have to switch to compliant fuels when entering the area.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia follows in the footsteps of Oman, Singapore, Suez Canal Authority, and, Malaysia among others to ban scrubber wastewater discharge in their waters amid environmental concerns.

The main argument behind the concerns is that the contents of the released water include heavy metals and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons, potentially posing a risk to marine life.

Open-loop scrubbers have been the most popular version of exhaust gas technology among owners, as the cheapest and least complex solution to install.

The scrubber-fitted fleet of main cargo carrying ship types now counts 2,600 ships, according to BIMCO’s data, while most of the fleet – 20,000 ships – are without a scrubber.

According to the data from DNV GL, some 4,047 ships with scrubbers were set to be in operation or on order by the end of 2020.

The number of ships with scrubbers in operation or on order is expected to hit 4, 131 by 2023, based on the data available so far.

Due to COVID-19 numerous companies have delayed or cancelled scrubber installations, so it remains to be seen what the overall impact of the pandemic on the scrubber installation will be.