Most shipowners do not want to install scrubbers on their ships, according to a report published last month by SEB, a corporate bank headquartered in Stockholm. According to a summary circulated last week (27 March), “Fewer than 2,000 ships will have a scrubber in 2020.”
In his IMO2020 Report, the bank’s chief commodities analyst Bjarne Schieldrop discussed his findings based on interviews with more than 100 of the bank’s clients from around the world. “One thing which became very clear to us as we travelled around the world was that hardly any shipowners we met really wanted or planned to install scrubbers on their ships,” he wrote. “The list of ‘why nots’ was almost endless.”
His approach focused on the big unknown of the fuel price spread between HSFO and 0.50% sulphur fuels in 2020, which is seen as the main driver for fitting scrubbers.
Reacting to the report’s conclusions, Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems Association director and Gulf Oil Marine technical director, Don Gregory told Marine Propulsion there are “some excellent exemplars for the scrubber argument.” He cited European shortsea shipping and the cruise line sector, saying that both sectors have high fuel consumption. For European shortsea shipping, a high fuel cost differential is due to the 0.10% sulphur limit in the region’s sulphur emissions control area.
“It is easier to sit on your hands than make a decision that will require investment in research and risk, especially in the current depressed market where there are other very immediate priorities around staying in business,” he said.
● The SEB report comes shortly before the crucial IMO MEPC meeting in London on 9-13 April. Its outcome will be a hotly debated topic at the Sulphur Cap 2020 Conference, which takes place in Amsterdam on 17-18 April. Mr Gregory will be giving a keynote address at the conference.