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Singapore to ban scrubber wash water when IMO sulphur ban bites

SINGAPORE's Maritime Port Authority (MPA) will outlaw the discharge of 'wash water' used in ships to scrub engine exhaust, effective from January 1, 2020 - the time when the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) new virtual sulphur emissions ban comes into effect

Singapore to ban scrubber wash water when IMO sulphur ban bites

SINGAPORE's Maritime Port Authority (MPA) will outlaw the discharge of 'wash water' used in ships to scrub engine exhaust, effective from January 1, 2020 - the time when the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) new virtual sulphur emissions ban comes into effect

04 December 2018 - 19:00

SINGAPORE's Maritime Port Authority (MPA) will outlaw the discharge of 'wash water' used in ships to scrub engine exhaust, effective from January 1, 2020 - the time when the International Maritime Organisation's (IMO) new virtual sulphur emissions ban comes into effect.

'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,' said MPA chief executive Andrew Tan.



'Ships fitted with hybrid scrubbers will be required to switch to the closed-loop mode of operation,' he said at an event in the Lion City, Reuters reported.



Mr Tan said Singapore would provide facilities for the collection of residue generated from the operation of scrubbers.



In order to meet the new IMO rules in 2020, shipowners and operators can switch to burning cleaner oil, shift to alternative fuels like liquefied natural gas (LNG), or invest in exhaust gas cleaning systems, or scrubbers.



However, the MPA's move could be a setback for shippers bunkering in Singapore that have invested in scrubbers given that the cheapest of the scrubbing options, open-loop systems, have been the most popular with shippers.



Open-loop scrubbers use seawater to capture sulphur from engine exhausts before discharging this 'wash water' back into the ocean after treatment. In closed-loop systems, scrubbing is performed using water treated with additives, recycling the liquid internally. Hybrid scrubbers are a combination of both.



Some anticipate Singapore's move to ban the use of open-loop scrubbers in its waters could cost the city-state business in the bunkering industry.



'Singapore's bunker market could lose out to competitive bunkering locations emerging in surrounding locations ... provided they allow open-loop scrubbers to operate,' said Singapore-based shipbroker BRS Baxi's managing director Ashok Sharma.



Others are less concerned since most shippers are opting for low sulphur fuels as a means for compliance, and the benefits of scrubbers are largely realised in open water and not within port limits.



While recent interest in scrubbers has increased, the cost of installing them and uncertainty around emissions regulations has meant that a switch to low-sulphur fuels remains the most practical form of compliance with IMO 2020 rules, according to industry experts.


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