Another port bans exhaust scrubbers

Open-loop scrubbers, spiking in popularity due to the International Maritime Organisation’s sulphur ban coming into play next January, have been banned from the Port of Fujairah, a major bunker depot and energy hub on the eastern shore of the United Arab Emirates.

Scrubbing technology has become the preferred choice for shipping lines as they ready themselves for IMO2020 regulations that will restrict the sulphur content in shipping fuel to 0.5%, down from 3.5%.

Cynics say the regulations will only serve the interests of liquid natural gas (LNG) companies, but as an alternative to sulphur-rich fuel many lines complain about not being able to afford LNG.

But scrubbing tech as a cheaper alternative is increasingly raising eyebrows as a means to counter sulphur pollution because it recirculates ocean water used for absorbing harmful emissions back into the sea.

Last year transport director at Norton Rose Fulbright, Malcolm Hartwell, said he found it baffling how it’s supposed to make environmental sense by replacing air pollution with water pollution.

Fujairah’s scrubbing ban announcement also follows in the wake of a similar ban that the Port of Singapore has announced effective from January 1, 2020. 

From then “the discharge of wash water from open-loop exhaust gas scrubbers in its waters” will be illegal, Singaporean authorities said.

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