Three of the vessels will complete the installation in 2019 and the remaining three in 2020.
Matson said that while new low sulphur fuels designed to meet the IMO emission standard have been in development for years, there is still uncertainty about their costs and availability. LNG, for example, is an alternative but the infrastructure for production and distribution remains insufficient to support Matson’s operations in the Pacific.
"Because of unpredictability in the way fuel markets may develop over the next few years, Matson's IMO compliance strategy retains the flexibility to implement the most economical solution as conditions evolve," said John Lauer, Matson’s senior vice president and chief commercial officer.
To start, Matson embarked on a fleet renewal program, replacing older vessels with four new ships that are equipped with dual-fuel engines designed to run on new low sulphur fuels or LNG.
The other main component of Matson’s strategy involves expanded use of exhaust gas cleaning systems, or scrubbers, which enable vessels to continue using higher sulphur fuels while still achieve compliance with the new IMO regulation of restricting fuel sulphur content to a maximum of 0.5%.
Matson had installed scrubber systems on three vessels in its Alaska fleet in 2015 and 2016.
With the deployment of dual-fuel engines in new ships and scrubbers in additional vessels, Matson said it is confident of meeting or exceeding the IMO 2020 emission standard while mitigating the expected higher cost of low sulphur fuel over more than half of its current fleet.