"Our first three months of Emission Control Area operation have run without a hitch," says Carisbrooke Shipping CEO Robert Wester. "We put this down to careful preparation supported by the skill and diligence of our sea staff."
Carisbrooke, which operates a fleet of some 60 vessels mostly on coastal and short-sea trades, is affected more than most by the new regulations. Since January 1, ship operators running vessels in Emission Control Areas (ECA) have been required to use bunkers containing no more than 0.1% sulphur in ECA waters.
Compliance options have included re-engining, scrubber installation or fuel-switching between waters in and outside ECA regions. However, a number of operators have experienced problems with fuel-switching and short-sea operators like Carisbrooke have faced economic and space constraints in complying with the new regulations.
"As a company, we are updating our public profile” explains Wester, “because we believe we have a strong story to tell. A key element in this strategy is our new website www.carisbrooke.co where we describe in more detail the challenges we have addressed in preparing for the ECA regulations.”
“We operate one of the most up-to-date fleets in the short-sea sector," Wester continues. “Nevertheless, the compliance process has been expensive although we are confident that the investment has led to safer, greener and more efficiently-run vessels overall."
Fleet Technical Director Martin Henry explains the company's strategy.
"Knowing what kind of serious failures and problems can occur during the extremely critical period of fuel change-over, if not managed well, we decided that careful preparation was a priority, not least because the regulations were to enter force at the very worst time of year when weather conditions are often at their most severe."
"Bearing in mind that many of our vessels are constantly in and out of ECA-regulated waters, we assessed each group of ships in our fleet to see what modifications would be required in terms of fuel tank allocation and piping arrangements. On some ships, there was a considerable amount of work needed."
"We seconded two serving Senior Chief Engineers to Head Office and between them, they visited all of our vessel series, carrying out actual change-overs to and from marine gasoil in order to draw up suitable detailed procedures. If the process is not carried out carefully, there is a serious risk of damage to components (see image below). The procedures vary, because on board some of our older vessels, there is limited tank capacity for distillate fuel, and more time is required for the change-over process. On others, we had to reorganise fuel supply pipework where this was economically viable."
CEO Wester says ECA compliance options for companies like Carisbrooke are limited.
"In the short-sea trades, the economics of scrubber installations to clean exhaust gas, or engine retrofits to burn alternative fuels such as liquid natural gas, simply don't stack up. In relatively small ships, there are invariably space and stability constraints relating to scrubber installations."
"Despite the new challenges, however, we have continued to offer our usual high standards of service to charterers and end users." he added.