Monday, May 18, 2015

Emission Scrubbers a Popular Choice for RoRo and Cruise Ships, Container Vessels and Gas Carriers

IMO Policy Prompts Decisions on Fuel Change or Cleaning Up Ones Act
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – WORLDWIDE – The International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations which came into effect on January 1 restricting the permissible discharge of sulphur from ships travelling within the new Emission Control Areas (ECAs) in the English Channel, the North Sea and the Baltic have, as we have reported previously, had varied results. Whilst some companies have complained of the increase in costs and a downturn in business, others, perhaps having been better prepared, have reacted more philosophically. One company which has had to adapt due to the nature of the areas it habitually trades in, is the Netherlands headquartered RoRo freight, container shipping and logistics group, Transfennica.

The company runs a fleet of fifteen specialist vessels, well suited to the icy conditions they are likely to encounter on the various routes served. These include major ports in the UK, Belgium, Germany, Poland, Estonia, Russia and Finland. The high sailing speed of the ships, many a combination of RoRo and LoLo to ensure maximum versatility, means they can serve the Finnish market on a regular weekly basis.

The new rules have affected the company in two ways, in 2014 a decision was made to cease the RoRo service between Bilbao, Portsmouth and Zeebrugge in December of that year whilst leaving the activities of the logistics department in the region largely unaffected. The new legislation with an inevitable rise in costs of around 50% as the fuel type used switched from traditional low sulphur Intermediate Fuel Oil to Marine Gas Oil, whilst aiming to persuade shippers to use short and ocean sea freight as more environmentally friendly than other forms of transport, in fact made road haulage a cheaper option in the Spanish market for many of them.

To counter the effect of the ECA ruling, in 2012 Transfennica began to look at the possibility of installing ‘scrubbers’ to the ships’ systems, initially installing the Alfa Laval technology to MV Plyca and, after a successful trial, rolling out the system to both main engines as well as both auxiliary engines on five further vessels. The five were fitted with the Alfa Laval Pure SOx system by German Dry Docks in good time for the January deadline, with each 17,400 dwt Con/Ro ship taking around three weeks to convert.

Scrubbers negate the need to switch fuels by cleaning exhaust emissions sufficiently to satisfy the new regulations and installing the Alfa system seems to be a popular choice for many types of vessel with Royal Caribbean Cruises recently opting for four of its ships to take up the technology. The Alfa system is even being introduced to the latest generation LPG carriers with Hanjin Heavy Industries installing scrubbers in newbuild 38,000 m3 vessels for Belgian logistics group Exmar whilst the vessels are fitted out at Hanjin’s Subic shipyard.