10pc of boxships fleet have scrubbers, which have been sold out
TEN per cent of the world's containership fleet in terms of TEU capacity have now been fitted with exhaust gas cleaning systems-scrubbers - ahead of the International Maritime Organization's 0
TEN per cent of the world's containership fleet in terms of TEU capacity have now been fitted with exhaust gas cleaning systems-scrubbers - ahead of the International Maritime Organization's 0.5 per cent sulphur fuel cap rule, and 40 per cent of newbuilds are being fitted with the onboard fuel refineries, according to Drewry.
At present, 266 box ships have been fitted with scrubbers, for an aggregate capacity of 2.2 million TEU, led by Mediterranean Shipping Company with 46 per cent of its operating fleet and Evergreen with 21 per cent, reported UK's The Loadstar.
Notwithstanding the US$5-10 million cost of a scrubber system, maintenance costs and downtime required for installation, ocean liners deploying ships using this equipment will likely enjoy a significant cost advantage over competitors who instead opt to purchase the more expensive low sulphur fuel oil (LSFO).
Analysts predict that the spread - the difference between the price of LSFO and the heavy fuel oil (HFO) that vessels fitted with scrubbers will burn - could be between $200 and $250 per tonne. With regards to an Asia-North Europe roundtrip by a mega box ship, this could represent a saving in the range of $1 million in bunker fuel costs.
Drewry also highlighted a potential benefit to the industry from the IMO January 2020 regulation in terms of a tightening of supply. It said: 'If the trend [uptake of scrubbers] intensifies, there could be some side benefits for ocean carriers by restricting supply during 2019.'
It noted that 'scrubber-fitted containerships will be in the minority of the fleet but as their popularity increases there is likely to be some temporary supply-side disruption that could affect freight rates in 2019'.
Drewry said the low sulphur fuel cap rule was also expected to 'reignite the demolitions market,' weeding out older, more heavy-polluting ships that will cease to be economic post-2020.
Moreover, it suggested that in a few trades, the number of ships could be temporarily reduced next year as more are removed from service for retrofitting.
Ship managers are currently quoting around six weeks in dry-dock for the retrofitting of a scrubber system.
Carriers that have 'sat on the fence' on whether to commit to scrubbers may now be left high and dry given that availability for installing scrubbers was 'extremely tight, according to Hapag-Lloyd chief operating officer Anthony Firmin, who last month said 'if you wanted to order a scrubber today, they are sold out.'
Mr Firmin believes that the total capacity for scrubber installation was currently only around 500 ships per year - mainly due to a shortage of qualified engineers in the industry.