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Singapore to ban use of open loop scrubbers in port waters

The world’s busiest port Singapore is to ban the use of open-loop scrubbers in its waters and ships will have to use compliant fuel once the IMO 2020 sulphur cap comes into force.

In the latest sign that owners fitting open loop scrubbers to their vessels to comply with the 0.5% sulphur cap will face increasing restriction on their operation the Maritime & Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) announced the ban on Friday.

“To protect the marine environment and ensure that the port waters are clean, the discharge of wash water from open-loop exhaust gas scrubbers in Singapore port waters will be prohibited. Ships fitted with open-loop scrubbers calling at Singapore will be required to use compliant fuel,” Andrew Tan, chief executive of the MPA told the Singapore Registry of Ships (SRS) Forum. In a clear statement of Singapore’s position he took the time to repeat the remark to an audience of around 300 senior industry executives.

For ships fitted with hybrid scrubbers they will be required to switch to closed loop mode while in Singapore waters. The measures take effect from 1 January 2020.

Tan assured that as a party to MARPOL Annex VI that Singapore would be providing reception facilities for residues generated from scrubbers.

“That’s the approach we plan to take,” he said, and added that he believed many other parts of the world would take the same approach. With the discharge of wash water into the sea open loop scrubbers are seen by some as simply transferring the sulphur pollution from the air to the sea.

As a major hub for large tankers and containerships the move by Singapore will have a significant impact as scrubbers are largely being fitted to vessels such as very large crude carriers (VLCCs) and ultra-large containerships (ULCs) where the economics of scrubbers provide the shortest payback period on the investment in the equipment.

As a the world’s largest bunkering port Tan said that the MPA was working closely with bunker suppliers to ensure an adequate supply of compliant fuel in its port well ahead of the 1 January 2020 deadline. As previously announced a list of suppliers that can supply compliant fuel will be made available from the middle of 2019.


“SRS operators are encouraged to plan ahead and ensure compliance with the IMO 2020 regulations in order to safeguard Singapore’s Quality Flag status,” he stated.

On a broader level Tan warned that environmental pressures would continue to grow he said over the last 10 years there had been a clear shift that the environment had taken more importance. “These regulations will continue to get tighter particularly in Asia where we are starting from a low base.

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