CEO of Euronav, Paddy Rodgers has criticised the use of scrubbers as an IMO 2020 compliance option, stating that they are polluting, have a low ROI, and may lead to many cases of non-compliance.
Speaking with Bloomberg, Mr Rodgers said open-loop scrubbers produce toxic and polluting waste material that is discharged back into the ocean. While air emissions are reduced by using a scrubber with heavy fuel oil (HFO), water pollution is increased.
Scrubber waste water is not officially regulated and is permitted to be discharged into the sea. Mr Rodgers said that a drop in price of HFO could increase the adoption of scrubbers and only move pollution from air to sea.
Furthermore, individual regions and ports may implement their own regulation on the operation of scrubbers and discharge of waste water. Operators could find themselves unable to use a scrubber in certain parts of the world and would therefore have to bear the cost of finding alternative fuel when visiting these areas.
Last week the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) adopted a regulation that permits only vessels fitted with a functioning scrubber to carry HFO. However, according to Mr Rodgers, operators may carry HFO but not use their scrubber, meaning they will be incompliant with the IMO’s 2020 0.5 per cent sulphur cap.
He says: “Weak regulatory oversight means non-compliance in the open sea, whether through breakdown or malfeasance, cannot be effectively controlled. Scrubbers are therefore a loop hole which makes enforcement of the sulphur ban extremely complex, difficult to enforce and likely to facilitate non-compliance.”
In addition, Mr Rodgers says that the CAPEX and OPEX costs of scrubber operation are high, especially in terms of the upfront payment they require. There are also some issues with corrosion that only heighten costs further. He also cites safety issues and unknown application of scrubbers in a large volume to the tanker environment and reasons why he is hesitant about the long-term benefits of the technology.
Mr Rodgers says adoption of scrubber technology as a means of compliance with new regulations requires detailed analysis of wide range of issues.
View the full video here.