The port of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates has decided to ban the use of a type of ship exhaust cleaner, becoming the latest location to impose restrictions on so-called open-loop scrubbers, a port document showed.
In recent months, many shipping companies have opted to fit scrubbers onboard their ships, ahead of major changes in the use of marine fuel across the world.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) will prohibit ships from using fuels with sulphur content above 0.5 percent from Jan. 1, 2020, compared with 3.5 percent today, unless they are equipped with exhaust gas cleaning systems, known as scrubbers, to clean up sulphur emissions.
Since the IMO’s rules were adopted, there have been moves to restrict the use of open-loop scrubbers in various jurisdictions. The other types of scrubber – closed-loop and hybrid – are still accepted for use in many locations.
Although open-loop scrubbers prevent sulphur emissions from ships escaping into the atmosphere, heavy metals and sulphur end up being discharged into seas with washing water.
In a faxed document seen by Reuters, Fujairah’s harbour master said: “Please be advised that Port of Fujairah has decided to ban the use of open-loop scrubbers in its waters. Ships will have to use compliant fuel once the IMO 2020 sulphur cap comes into force.”
The document was sent to agents, bunkering companies and oil terminal users on Tuesday. Fujairah is one of the world’s busiest terminals, especially for shipments of oil from the Middle East Gulf.
Many shipping companies have invested in open-loop scrubbers as they are cheaper and the decision by Fujairah’s port adds to complications for vessel owners.
Acting on environmental concerns, Singapore announced in November a ban on the discharge of “wash water” used in ships to scrub engine exhaust from 2020. China last month banned discharges from open-loop scrubbers across all rivers and ports along its coastline from Jan. 1, 2019.