The Marine Department of Malaysia is among the latest to issue a notice to prohibit the discharge of washwater from open loop scrubbers in its port waters when the International Maritime Organization’s global sulfur mandate gets implemented.
“Ships calling to the Malaysian ports are advised to change over to compliance fuel oil or change over to close loop system (if hybrid system) before entering Malaysian waters and ports,” it said in a statement made available to S&P Global Platts Friday.
This comes as less than two months remain for the IMO 2020 rule and differing viewpoints still exist in the industry about the viability of scrubbers as a compliance option.
Countries remain divided over open-loop scrubbers due to environmental concerns over the discharge of polluted washwater into the sea.
In January, the Port of Fujairah issued a notice banning the use of open-loop scrubbers in its port waters.
Singapore is set to implement the ban from January 1, 2020, while China has already done so from January 1 this year, in its emission control areas covering inland waters and most of its coastline, including Bohai Bay waters.
Open-loop scrubbers have also been banned earlier in many other regions including Belgium, California and Massachusetts in the US, along Germany’s Rhine River as well as the Irish Port of Waterford.
In an open-loop scrubber system, water is taken from the sea, used for scrubbing, treated and discharged back to sea, with the natural chemical composition of the seawater being used to neutralize the results of SO2 removal.
Still, others argue that this view point is an oversimplification which ignores the fact that the IMO has set out guidelines for cleaning systems which include washwater discharge and monitoring criteria to safeguard against environmental damage.
Scrubbers can help to remove up to 99% sulfur dioxides, up to 94% of particulate matter, up to 60% of black carbon and significant amounts of polyaromatic hydrocarbons, or PAH, according to some industry sources.
A recent study by Norway’s SINTEF, one of Europe’s largest independent research organizations, also showed that the continued use of residual fuels with a scrubber can help towards global CO2 reduction.
Meanwhile, the department issued a separate notice informing the shipping community about the requirement of sulfur content limit in Regulation 14.1, Annex VI of MARPOL 73/78 as the country geared to comply with the IMO 2020 rule.
“From January 1 2020, a Malaysia ship which has to procure non-compliant fuel oil due to the unavailability of compliant fuel would need to complete and submit a Fuel Oil Non-Availability Report form (FONAR) to the Malaysia Marine Department, the port authorities where the non-compliant fuel was purchased and the destination port authorities,” it said.
To aid preparations for IMO 2020, all Malaysian ships using the new type of 0.5% sulfur compliant bunker fuels and plying international voyages are also encouraged to submit a ship implementation plan, or SIP, to recognized organizations for verification before January 1, 2020, it added.