Malaysia Bans Open-loop Scrubbers, Makes FONAR Mandatory

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In a major development, Malaysia has announced that they are prohibiting the use of open-loop scrubbers for ships plying in Malaysian waters, as Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy joins the growing number of nations adopting new industry guidelines on reducing sea pollution, reports Reuters.

New regulations from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) will require shippers to adopt more environmentally-friendly measures to manage their fleets, including reducing the sulphur content in fuels used in their vessels from Jan. 1 2020.

Ships Advised To Change To Closed-loop Scrubbers

In a notice issued to the shipping industry, Malaysia’s maritime department said ships are now prohibited from discharging washwater from open-loop scrubbers while operating in Malaysian waters.

“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,” read the notice, posted on the department’s website.

Benefit of closed-loop scrubbers?

Closed-loop scrubbers keep most of the water used for sulphur removal onboard for disposal at port. Open-loop systems, however, remove sulphur coming through a ship’s smokestack with water that can then be pumped overboard, prompting major ports around the world to ban its use in domestic waters amid concerns over sea pollution.

Under the new IMO regulations, all ships will need to use fuels with a maximum sulphur limit of 0.5 weight percent (wt%), down from the current limit of 3.5 wt%, in a bid to reduce maritime sulphur emissions by 80%.

Non-compliant Fuel Users Need Approval

In a separate statement, the department said Malaysian ships that are forced to use non-compliant fuel will need to secure approval from the department, the port authorities where the non-compliant fuel was purchased and the destination port authorities, once the new regulations kick in on Jan. 1.

A platts report further quotes from the statement, “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,”.

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.

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Source: Reuters, Platts

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