China officials have confirmed that there are no plans to impose a ban on open loop scrubbers in the country, as long as they are in compliance with prevailing regulation.
Two Chinese officials told Wei Zhuang - BIMCO’s regional manager based in Shanghai - that reports of a ban are based on misconception.
“I do not know where the rumour came from, but I can tell you that China is not going to ban open-loop scrubbers, as long as they are in compliance with the prevailing regulation,” Dong Leyi, state official from China Maritime Safety Administration told BIMCO.
The statement was backed by Dr Xie Xie, director of the Waterborne Transportation Research Institute at China’s Ministry of Transport.
Reports of a ban has circulated as the shipping, port and bunker industries anticipate the new 0.5% sulphur cap regulation from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which will come into force on 1 January 2020.
Slow scrubber uptake
In recent months, there have been numerous reports of a strong pick-up in demand for scrubbers. On 1 January 2020, however, the number of ships fitted with scrubbers will represent only a tiny percentage of the world fleet, according to forecasts.
A recent report from US investment bank Morgan Stanley has pointed to an estimate from marine and energy technology group Wartsila, which forecasts it will only be possible to install 2,000-3,000 scrubbers by the January 2020 deadline.
Morgan Stanley’s Capital Goods team expect just 1,200 scrubbers to be installed by 2020, out of a fleet of 60,000 ships (commercial fleet), although the payback period on a scrubber could move to less than one year in the future.
Open loop scrubbers are currently banned in Belgium and Germany has a partial ban along sections of the Rhine river. Open loop scrubbers, the most common used system, discharge emissions residue into the sea, as opposed to closed loop scrubbers which collect the residue on board the ship for later discharge in port.