The Port of Fujairah, one of the biggest bunker ports in the world, and the biggest in the Middle East, has announced that it is banning the use of open-loop scrubbers in the port. The controversial decision means that all vessels calling into Fujairah will have to use low sulphur content fuel, to comply with the IMO 2020 sulphur cap due to come into force next January, rather than scrubbers. Fujairah is following in the steps of another major bunker hub, Singapore, which also announced a ban on open loop scrubbers in December.
There are those who believe that open loop scrubbers will remove harmful emissions from the atmosphere but will lead to greater pollution of the oceans. This is strongly disputed by companies supplying such systems, and many shipping companies which are committed to using scrubbers as a means of compliance with the new regulations. MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company, the second largest shipping company in the world, has recently received US$439 million in financing for 86 exhaust gas cleaning systems that it will install across its fleet.
The shipping industry has expressed concern that decisions such as that made by Fujairah are not being based on factual scientific evidence. The Clean Shipping Alliance (CSA) 2020, which includes many leading ship operators from different sectors, has in particular urged caution. Michael Kaczmarek, Senior Vice-President, Carnival Corporation, a CSA member, said: “It is understandable the discharge of scrubber wash waters will figure in some local discharge discussions and these rules may currently differ from one place to the next. However, we strongly encourage any port considering a restriction to first investigate the existing data before creating such an impact on their shipping clients. While I do not know of any scientific evidence concluding that scrubber wash water discharged to sea is harmful, what I do know is that the International Maritime Organisation considered this issue in depth before confirming the acceptability of exhaust gas cleaning systems, open and closed, as means of compliance.”