Singapore bans open-loop scrubbers in port waters

Singapore bans open-loop scrubbers in port waters

Singapore is banning the use of open-loop scrubbers in port waters from January 1, 2020.

Ships visiting the port from January 2020 when the IMO’s global 0.5 per cent sulphur cap enters into force will be required to use low-sulphur compliant fuel.

Ships operating hybrid scrubbers will have to switch to closed-loop mode for compliance.

Mr Andrew Tan, chief executive, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore said during the Singapore Registry of Ships (SRS) Forum: “To protect the marine environment and ensure that the port waters are clean, the discharge of wash water from open-loop exhaust gas scrubbers in Singapore port waters will be prohibited. Ships fitted with open-loop scrubbers calling at Singapore will be required to use compliant fuel. Ships fitted with hybrid scrubbers will be required to switch to the closed-loop mode of operation. Singapore, as a party to MARPOL Annex VI, will be providing reception facilities for the collection of residues generated from the operation of scrubbers.”

He believes that this approach is one many other parts of the world will take to protect the environment. Some have argued that scrubbers do not solve the pollution problem and merely move emissions from land to sea. However, recent figures show that scrubber orders are rising. Mr Per Holmvang, Environmental Technology Advisor, DNV GL, recently told journalists that there are 775 scrubbers in operation or on order with this figure expected to rise to 2034 in 2019.

Singapore’s decision will affect the decisions shipowners make from now on. Scrubbers provide a good ROI and are an immediate solution to 2020 compliance, whereas 0.5 per cent fuel blends are not yet widely available and there is much uncertainty regarding their compatibility and stability.

Mr Tan said that the MPA is working with bunker suppliers to ensure compliant fuel blends will be available in the Port of Singapore before the 2020 sulphur cap.