Scrubber Industry Says it has Ample Capacity to Help Marine Meet a 0.5% Global Sulfur Cap in 2020

Friday June 3, 2016

The marine scrubber industry has "ample scrubber capacity for 2020" and is ready to help shipping comply with the 0.50 percent global sulfur cap for bunkers that is expected to come into force that year, the Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems Association (EGCSA) says.

"The exhaust gas cleaning industry is ready for the new, tighter emissions regulations," says EGCSA director Don Gregory.

"Together with installers, we have systems in place that will help ship owners easily and cost-effectively meet the 2020 requirements."

In fact EGCSA says its members are ready to outfit vessels with "thousands of new scrubbers in time for the introduction of the 2020 global emissions limit," and also pointed to a survey it conducted in April 2016 that indicated that capacity for manufacture and installation of marine scrubbers is likely to be almost 20 times as high at the end of 2019 as it was in 2015.

Implementation of the global sulfur cap may still be delayed until 2025 pending the outcome of an International Maritime Organization (IMO) fuel availability study due later this year.

EGCSA says its members have provided data and industry insights for marine scrubber capability and capacity studies as part of that process.

Scrubbers allow vessels to continue to burn otherwise non-compliant bunkers under provisions that permit equivalent methods of compliance.

"The options available to shipowners facing fuel sulphur limitations are limited. Shipowners can consume expensive, low-sulphur marine gas oil; they can use engines that can work with liquefied natural gas (LNG); or they can install a scrubber and continue regular operations with heavy fuel oil," says EGCSA.

"Since 2010, over 600 vessels have made investments to allow them to meet low sulphur standards through LNG or exhaust gas cleaning technology. Early adoption of these alternatives reduces shipowners' vulnerability to fuel market price volatility and will relieve demand on low sulphur fuels for the rest of the world."

Data from Ship & Bunker has shown that, while bunker prices may have dropped significantly over the last few years, the cost of MGO in relative terms compared to HFO has grown considerably. 

In the years leading up to the late 2014 collapse of oil and bunker prices, MGO was priced at between 40 and 60 percent above IFO380.

Today, MGO in the primary ports is typically twice the cost of IFO380.

Last July, EGCSA member Wärtsilä said it believes that many ship operators will choose to use scrubbers to meet the new global sulfur cap for marine fuel when it comes into force.