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IMO 2020

North P&I Club debunks exhaust gas cleaning systems

Consults Don Gregory and Mark West of the Exhaust Gas Cleaning System Association for answers.




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Alvin Foster, Deputy Director (Loss Prevention) at the North P&I Club asks Don Gregory and Mark West of the Exhaust Gas Cleaning System Association about the finer points of scrubber operations and how the technology allows shipowners to meet the upcoming IMO 0.5% sulphur cap by 2020:

Choosing the best option to comply with the sulphur cap will be a gamble. The economic success of a shipowner’s choice depends heavily on future fuel prices in 2020 and beyond.

If the price difference between high sulphur residual fuels and 0.5%S distillates reaches $400 per tonne in 2020, as predicted by some market analysts, then installing exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) looks like a very attractive option. 

Much has been said and written about EGCS – commonly referred to as ‘scrubbers’ – and whether it is an environmentally sound solution. Is putting the SOx into the sea any better than releasing it into the atmosphere? 

The public perception of the “greenness” of scrubbers may well be different to the reality. To help us decide on what is myth and what is fact, North asked Don Gregory and Mark West of the Exhaust Gas Cleaning System Association (EGCSA) to take part in a short Q&A. 

The following are the opinions of the EGCSA and do not necessarily reflect the views of North. 

Q. Doesn’t an EGCS merely move the pollution from the air into the sea?
A. This is a common misconception – scrubber wash water removes and converts sulphur oxides from the exhaust gases so they are discharged in the wash water as harmless sulphate. After sodium and chloride, sulphate is the most common ion in seawater. Even if all of the sulphur in all of the world’s petroleum reserves were to be scrubbed, the increase in ocean sulphate would be infinitesimally small. Scrubber wash water discharges are also continuously monitored and subject to strict discharge limits. Various studies have concluded that any reduction in pH from scrubbing, will be insignificant when compared with that resulting from increasing atmospheric CO2 absorbed by the oceans. 

Also, open loop scrubbing has been used for years by coastal power stations and by oil tanker inert gas (IG) systems when in port without environmental issues. 
Taking the holistic view, scrubbing enables the use of residual fuel to continue, which means the energy needed for producing distillate fuel and resulting CO2 emissions can be greatly reduced. 

Q. What about the numerous anecdotes about EGCS being unreliable and requiring a lot of maintenance?
A. This may have been the case some years ago before exhaust gas cleaning became widespread. However, scrubbing is an established technology. There have been some reports of pipe failures due to using incorrect materials or incorrect coatings. The key to successful EGCS is extremely professional project management and high quality installation teams. EGCS are designed for the life of the ship. 

Q. Can we expect laws – international, regional or domestic - that will eventually control or ban the discharge of EGCS effluent (particularly in confined waters and ports)?
A. IMO already requires that the wash water parameters of pH, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and turbidity are continuously monitored and the results logged against time and ship’s position. 

There are a few ports that have prohibited the use of open loop scrubbers in their waters. But there is no evidence to justify the prohibition. There are many examples of land based scrubbers operating for decades without measurable impact on sediments or the surrounding waters. It is very much an emotional reaction. 

Q. Are you confident that refineries will continue to produce cheap high sulphur residual fuels post-2020?
A. Yes - there is no doubt that refiners are worried about the disposal of residues come late 2019 with the switch to 0.5%S fuel. The worst case scenario is the high sulphur fuel falls below the price of coal.

Q. If using closed-loop and hybrid scrubber systems, what happens with the chemical waste? Is it disposed in an environmentally sound manner?
A. The scrubber guidelines require that waste generated by closed loop EGCS is delivered to shoreside reception facilities. It cannot be discharged to the sea or incinerated onboard. 

Q. If the EGCS malfunctions in service, is the vessel in breach of MARPOL Annex VI? 
A. The key advice that EGCSA has received is that ship operators should be open and advise flag and coastal/ port state without delay of the issue and remedial action that is being taken. In the event of a problem preventing system operation, the ship would not be considered as being in immediate breach of the regulations because non-compliance would be unintentional and the provisions of regulation 3.1.2 of MARPOL Annex VI would apply.  

If EGCS operation is not possible, the ship is advised to change over to compliant fuel. However, if there is no compliant fuel on board, the ship should be allowed to complete the current leg of its voyage without deviation and then carry out repair works or bunker compliant fuel. 

Q. Is it too late to order and install an EGCS on a vessel before 2020? 
A. It is understood that most of the EGCSA members cannot now deliver until after 2020. There are some bottlenecks such as availability of laser measurement surveyors and experienced installation teams. However, we understand one particular yard in Korea has recently quoted 19 days for complete installation. As things stand, high alloy steels required for manufacture are still available in sufficient quantities. 

Published: 20 July, 2018

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LNG Bunkering

Titan completes successful LNG bunkering op of E&S Tankers ship in Antwerp

Bunker barge “FlexFueler001” delivered 110 mt of LNG bunker fuel to chemical tanker “Liselotte Esberger”, marking a milestone since it was the first time Titan delivered to a vessel of E&S Tankers.





Titan completes successful LNG bunkering op of E&S Tankers ship in Antwerp

LNG bunker fuel supplier Titan on Monday (19 February) said it executed a successful LNG bunkering operation for E&S Tankers, a joint venture of Essberger Tankers and Stolt Tankers as an operator of chemical tankers within Europe. 

The refuelling operation took place at the port of Antwerp on 15 January. 

“Our vessel, FlexFueler001, flawlessly delivered 110 mt of LNG to the Liselotte Esberger, marking a milestone since it is the first time we deliver to a vessel of E&S Tankers,” it said in a social media post. 

“This operation underscores our dedication to sustainable shipping practices and showcases our commitment to environmentally friendly solutions. We're proud to collaborate with E&S Tankers and look forward to furthering our shared mission.”

Titan completes successful LNG bunkering op of E&S Tankers ship in Antwerp

According to E&S Tankers website, the 7,135 dwt Liselotte Essberger arrived in Hamburg from a shipyard in China on 5 December 2023 and was christened the following day.  

The vessel is first of a total of four newbuildings ordered by the firm that are equipped with LNG dual-fuel engines.

Related: E&S Tankers launches second LNG dual fuel chemical tanker “John T. Essberger”


Photo credit: Titan and E&S Tankers
Published: 20 February, 2024

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Shipping Corridor

Report: Korea-US-Japan green shipping corridors can lead to significant environmental impact

Creating green shipping corridors between South Korea, the United States and Japan’s top two busiest routes can reduce up to 41.3 million tCO2 each year, says Korean NPO Solutions for Our Climate.





Report: Korea-US-Japan green shipping corridors can lead to significant environmental impact

Korea-based non-profit organisation Solutions for Our Climate (SFOC) on Tuesday (13 February) said creating green shipping corridors between South Korea, the United States and Japan's top two busiest routes – Busan-Tokyo and Yokohama; Busan-Los Angeles and Long Beach– can reduce up to 41.3 million tCO2 each year. 

This is equivalent to annual emissions from over 9 million passenger vehicles in the United States.

“We evaluated the anticipated impact of several proposed KoreaUnited States-Japan green shipping corridors involving ports of Busan (KRPUS), Incheon (KRINC), and Gwangyang (KRKAN) —South Korea’s three major container ports,” SFOC said in the report. 

Each of the three South Korean ports will have the most significant environmental impact if connected to ports of Tokyo (JPTYO)/Yokohama (JPYOK) in Japan and ports of Los Angeles (USLAX)/Long Beach (USLGB) in the United States. 

“If container ships that travel KRPUS – JPTYO/ JPYOK and KRPUS – USLAX/USLGB are converted to zero emission ships, we can expect significant reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions, approximately 20.7 million tCO2 and 20.6 million tCO2, respectively,” it added. 

Accordingly, reducing GHG emissions in the global maritime shipping will require coordinated multilateral commitments and actions.

The green shipping corridor initiative is a global effort to align the shipping industry with the 1.5°C trajectory. It aims to:

  • Create maritime routes in which mainly zero-emission ships travel
  • Run ports with 100 percent renewable energy
  • Enforce mandatory use of on-shore power for docked vessels.

“With increasing global shipping emissions, green corridors are key to decarbonising the sector,” SFOC said. 

“Our latest report on green corridors comes on the heels of South Korea and the United States' announcement to work together to implement cross-country green shipping corridors between several of their key ports.”


Photo credit: Solutions for Our Climate
Published: 14 February, 2024

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Alternative Fuels

Ports of Rotterdam and Shannon Foynes to develop European green fuels supply chain corridor

Ports will also potentially work together on market development in this new market and jointly find final off-takers for supplies from Ireland including maritime fuels sector.





Ports of Rotterdam and Shannon Foynes to develop European green fuels supply chain corridor

Port of Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, on Tuesday (30 January) said it has signed an agreement with Ireland’s largest bulk port Shannon Foyne with a view to developing a supply-chain corridor for exporting green fuels into Europe produced from the west of Ireland’s limitless wind resource.

The agreement will focus on market and trade development for vast volumes of green hydrogen and its derivatives produced at the planned international green energy hub on the Shannon Estuary. The Memorandum of Understanding signed by the ports identifies significant and identified scale-up volumes of green hydrogen commencing with proof-of-concept volumes by 2030.

Europe’s overall green hydrogen strategy for 2030 is to import 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen by 2030 for use in heavy industry and transport sectors that are traditionally reliant on coal, natural gas, and oil. The Port of Rotterdam intends to facilitate volumes of 40 million tonnes from across the world by 2050, a significant proportion of which can come from the Atlantic resource.

Further opportunities will also be explored under the MOU, including building coalitions with interested and suitable commercial parties and adding other parties to the MOU to help achieve a joint supply chain process for delivering the first proof-of-concept volumes before 2030.

The MOU also provides for engaging relevant public stakeholders to support the initiative and sharing of information regarding the potential supply of green hydrogen and green hydrogen derivatives, such as green ammonia, green methanol, etc, as well as sharing best practice information on areas such as desalination, high voltage electricity, industrial clustering around the H2 molecule and green ship bunkering processes.

The two ports will also potentially work together on market development in this new market and jointly finding final off-takers for supplies from Ireland. These would include maritime fuels sector, sustainable aviation fuels, green fertiliser and facilities with direct green hydrogen fuel requirements such as the steel industry.

René van der Plas, Director International at the Port of Rotterdam, said: “The port of Rotterdam is already Europe’s leading energy hub and recognises the significance and opportunity for all European citizens and industries arising from the green transition. To that end, hydrogen is one of our priorities and we are working hard towards establishing infrastructure, facilities and partnerships that will help deliver on this.

“This agreement with Shannon Foynes Port is one such partnership and can support our efforts to set up supply chain corridors for the import of green hydrogen into north-west Europe from countries elsewhere with high potential for green and low carbon hydrogen production. Shannon Foynes Port is an ideal partner in that respect.”

Patrick Keating, CEO of Shannon Foynes Port Company, said: “With the largest wind resource in Europe off our west coast, we have the opportunity to become Europe’s leading renewable energy generation hub. That will deliver transformational change for Ireland in terms of energy independence and an unprecedented economic gain in the process. In delivering on this, too, we can make our biggest ever contribution to the European project as we become a very significant contributor to REPowerEU, Europe’s plan to end reliance on fossil fuels.

“We can produce an infinite supply of renewable energy here and there are already a number of routes to market emerging for that energy. One such route to market is the development of a supply chain into Europe.”

“This agreement with the Port of Rotterdam is a key step towards enabling that. The port of Rotterdam already works on introducing the fuels and feedstocks of the future with major oil and gas companies and its broader port community of over 3,000 commercial companies. It can be a key supply chain corridor for exporting green fuels from the Shannon Estuary into Europe. This is very significant recognition and validation of the potential for hydrogen production generated in Ireland to be exported into Europe.”


Photo credit: Port of Rotterdam
Published: 31 January, 2024

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