A Snapshot of Shipping Markets – More Countries Ban Open Loop Scrubbers


  • China has banned discharge of Wash Water from Open-loop scrubber starting this year. This echoes Singapore’s initiatives to be in effect from 1 Jan 2020.
  • P&I club Gard warns that additional countries are likely to ban Open-loop scrubber in the near future.
  • Most of the scrubbers installed are Open-loop as Closed-loop not flexible and Hybrid scrubbers are way too expensive.
  • The plausible way is that operators can turn off scrubbers and switch to low sulphur fuels when in restricted areas, ensuring that they still comply with IMO regulations.

Once again scrubbers are the topic of conversation. Alibrashipping in its website, has published regarding the recent news saying some countries will ban the use of open loop scrubbers.

Ban on Wash Water discharge

From 1 Jan this year, China’s Maritime Authority has banned the discharge of ‘wash water’ from open loop scrubbers in an attempt to reduce pollution in coastal areas.

The ban affects all rivers and ports along China’s coastline and includes the Bohai Sea. This echoes the initiatives of the Maritime Port Authority of Singapore who will ban open loop scrubber discharge in port waters from 1 Jan 2020, as the IMOs sulphur cap regulations come in to effect.

More countries to join?

A recent publication from P&I club Gard also shows a map of other countries who are putting together regulations to manage the use of open loop scrubbers, warning that other additional countries are likely to follow suit in the near future.

In fact, reports have come to light this week that the port of Fujairah has also banned the use of open loop scrubbers.

Scrubbers installed are mostly open-loop

Alibra estimates shows that almost 90% of scrubbers installed use ‘open loop’ technology.

Where does this leave the future of scrubbers with the deadline looming for the IMO’s sulphur cap regulations?

Why owners opt open-loop?

Open loop scrubber technology is one of the cheaper options that owners and operators can employ in order to meet the new regulations.

This technology uses the sea water as wash water and is more cost effective than closed loop and hybrid technologies. Closed loop scrubbers have a larger footprint on board the vessel and require the discharge of scrubber residue when in port.

Expensive Hybrid scrubbers

There is also the option of a hybrid scrubber which allows operators to switch from open to closed loop systems.

However this technology is often as expensive to install as the closed loop system.

Plausible countermeasures

Following discussions with technical managers, it seems that there are still plausible countermeasures as is often the case with regulations, in that operators can turn off scrubbers and switch to low sulphur fuels when in restricted areas, ensuring that they still comply with IMO regulations.

However, with mounting pressure for shipping to clean up its act, how long until more stringent rules are put in place?

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Source: alibrashipping


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