Industry appetite for scrubber tech declines

Exhaust gases of a ferry in the light of the sunset. You do not see the ship or the ferry but only its trail in the water.

Demand for scrubber technology is declining despite it once being hailed as a solution for many to meet the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) 2020 guidelines on sulphur content in fuels.

Wärtsilä, a supplier of the fuel-cleaning technology, said that customer interest in scrubber investments has dropped in the second quarter of 2020 because of turmoil in the oil markets.

Wärtsilä President and CEO, Jaakko Eskola, commented on the low scrubber investments during a report on its first half 2020 earning which saw many challenges presented across the business due to the effects of COVID-19.

Overall, the company said its order intake across the business decreased by 19% but the company had stable net sales and a strong cash flow.

In addition, during a recent webinar, maritime consultants Drewry noted that it does not expect there to be “huge appetite” for more scrubbers to be fitted on the container shipping fleet.

According to Drewry around 20% of container ships have scrubbers fitted.

Reluctance to adopt the technology could be attributed to delays experienced by carriers during installation as well as some calls for the technology to be outlawed on environmental grounds.

There is also evidence of low sulphur fuels becoming more reasonably priced.

Scrubbers are generally used on vessels to limit air pollutants using an exhaust gas cleaning systems.

Scrubbers remove sulphur oxides from the ship’s engine and boiler exhaust gases, enabling ships fitted with them to continue to use heavy fuel oil, in accordance with IMO Guidelines.

The IMO introduced of a global regulation on the sulphur content of ship’s fuel on 1 January 2020.

The global upper limit on the sulphur content of ships’ fuel oil now stands at 0.50%, down from from 3.50% previously.

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