To overcome continuing industry unease over scrubbers, seven questions need to be addressed, EGCSA director Don Gregory told delegates at Riviera Maritime Media’s Americas Sulphur Cap 2020 Conference in Houston.
Reflecting on discussions at the beginning of the conference’s second day, Mr Gregory asked for the gathering’s help in “resolving the underlying puzzle that we face”.
“Nobody has questioned exhaust gas cleaning systems’ effectiveness or practicality,” said Mr Gregory. “But a message that has come through – and been reinforced through the online polls taken yesterday – is that there is a bit of a fear factor when it comes to opting for exhaust gas cleaning systems that doesn’t exist when discussing LNG, very low sulphur fuel or diesel.
“The fact that some people are still not sure if scrubbers are a good idea is a change from the thinking two or three years ago when people would reflexively say ‘they won’t work’. But the present attitude is frustrating.”
He identified seven questions where the market is seeking further clarity:
- Is using seawater unsustainable as a process liquid for scrubbers?
- Is discharging vanadium oxides and nickel oxides into the sea harmful?
- Is it unsustainable?
- Will the amounts build up over time?
- Is there evidence of harm?
- What are the other components in the exhaust gases entering the aquatic environment?
- How do we go about the process of assessing sustainability?
A related issue, he said, was “assessing the sustainability of the compliant fuels option to ensure we are truly doing justice to the environment.”
Admitting that his role meant that his sales pitch was that ‘scrubbers are good’ he emphasised that it was the sustainability question that really guided him day-to-day.
“Everything we do has an impact on the environment. We need to have sustainable solutions rather than a kind of situation where we're saying ‘you can't do something because we don't like it or because it's uncertain.’
“We can't ignore this worry. We need to face it head on,” he maintained, adding that a big part of the solution lies with IMO applying “its track record of engineering science and common sense to produce rules that benefit the environment.”