Shipowners have ordered or installed scrubbers for nearly 1,000 vessels as the uptake in exhaust gas cleaning systems rapidly accelerates ahead of the 1 January 2020 0.5% global sulphur cap from the IMO.
According to the Exhaust Gas Cleaning System Association (EGCSA) the number of ships with scrubbers either installed or on order stood at 983 as of 31 May this year.
“This follows a slew of recent reports that major ship operators, including Spliethoff, Frontline, DHT and Star Bulk have opted for scrubbers. One of the ‘big’ container companies has confirmed it will use scrubbing as part of its 2020 compliance portfolio and there are rumours that others will do likewise,” EGCSA said.
Earlier this month Wärtsilä reported a $198m scrubber order for 50 MW, 60 MW and 70 MW exhaust gas cleaning systems to be retrofitted to containerships.
The figures underscore a rapid shift in favour of fitting scrubbers in recent months especially from owners of large-sized tonnage. The expected spread in fuel price between high and low sulphur fuel post-2020 makes the economic argument particularly attractive for large-sized vessels with a payback period of just eight to 12 months on scrubber system.
In terms of the split between retrofits and newbuilds for scrubber installations the EGCSA survey showed that 63% were retrofits and 37% for newbuilds. The most popular type of scrubber is open-loop accounting for 988 out of 1,561 individual scrubber towers. “EGCSA is not surprised that open loop scrubbing is preferred. It is the simplest scrubbing system and favoured by ship crews,” the association said.
There is also little surprise that Asian shipyards are taking the lion’s share of the installation work with 60% for retrofits and 85% of newbuildings.
With close to 1,000 systems already fitted or ordered industry estimates have previously put the maximum number of ships able to fit systems by the 2020 deadline at somewhere between 1,500 to 2,500 based on manufacturing and installation capacity.
“EGCSA believes that although there has been a surge in demand, yard capacity is not an issue going forward, however other constraints such as the availability of laser scanning specialists and experienced installation teams mean that it may not be possible to pick and choose an installation slot nor coincide a scrubber installation with an already scheduled drydock in the near future,” the association said.
It also said that orders were continuing to be inked. “Needless to say, the majority of EGCSA members are still taking orders with several now taking options through to 2023 to enable shipowners to secure a position on the installation timetable.”
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Editor, Seatrade Maritime Ne