Wartsila: Scrubbers 'no silver bullet' for new IMO sulfur rules

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(LONDON) — A Wartsila official has told Reuters that the shipping industry shouldn't view scrubbers as a "silver bullet" to comply with new low-sulfur rules that go into effect in 2020, the news service reported.

Wartsila Marine Solutions is receiving record orders for the equipment as the International Maritime Organization's deadline draws nearer, but Sigurd Jenssen, director of exhaust gas cleaning, said there is a limit to the number of ships that can be fitted.

“You can’t equip 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 ships … in one year,” he said.

Wartsila installed 70 to 80 scrubbers last year, accounting for about a third of the market, and Jenssen said that fitting 2,000 to 3,000 ships with scrubbers by 2020 is “doable." But with about 60,000 vessels traveling international routes, according to broker Alphatanker, a large number will have to turn to cleaner fuels.

The International Energy Agency said on Wednesday that there has not been enough investment in scrubbers, and it is worried about the market’s ability to meet demand for the low-sulfur fuel that will be needed by ships without the equipment.

The IMO mandate will reduce the maximum amount of sulfur allowable in marine fuels to 0.5 percent, meaning that ships without scrubbers will have to burn lower-sulfur fuels such as marine gasoil or ultra-low-sulfur fuel oil. Experts say this will cut fuel oil demand by anywhere from 1.7 million barrels to 3.5 million barrels per day.

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By Professional Mariner Staff