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Argus Media: Open-loop scrubber ban ‘unlikely in 2020’, says IMO

08 Apr 2019

Global energy and commodity price reporting agency Argus Media on Friday (5 April) published an IMO 2020 market update regarding scrubbers:

A ban on open-loop scrubbers operating in international waters will not happen for at least 22 months, said Frederick Kenney, director for legal affairs and external relations division with the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

IMO is a part of the UN, and as such represents a number of countries. That means the process for a proposal to become a requirement can be a lengthy one.

"A lot of times things get through in IMO not by politics but by process…nothing really happens fast at the IMO", Kenney said at the Connecticut Maritime Association shipping conference in Stamford on Thursday.

EU countries are talking about banning open loop scrubbers in international waters out of pollution concerns. But no proposals have been put forward to the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee. If a proposal is submitted, then the process to review it would take nearly two years.

"You have a minimum of 22 months before anything can enter into force," Kenney said.

The IMO's process quirks are evident in the date it set for a ban on vessels carrying high-sulphur residual fuel oil in their bunkering tanks. That ban begins on 1 March, two months after the IMO will have dropped its global marine fuel sulphur standard from 3.5pc to 0.5pc.

IMO did not mean to give shipowners a grace period to comply with the IMO 2020 rule that starts 1 January. Its just that the March date was the earliest the IMO allowed, Kenney said.

Open-loop scrubbers use seawater to capture sulphur from engine exhausts before discharging this wash water back into the ocean. Some countries have decided to ban open loop scrubbers in their territorial waters. These include Singapore, Latvia, Lithuania, Belgium, Dublin in Ireland, Fujairah and Abu Dhabi in the UAE, India and China. In the US, Connecticut, Massachusetts, California and Hawaii ban their use.

Source: Argus Media
Published: 8 April


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