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Scrubbers leading to increased pipework repairs due to corrosion

Underwater repair specialist Hydrex says it has seen a correlation between the fitting of scrubbers and increased pipework repairs due to corrosion.

Hydrex said its technicians had recently carried out pipe replacements on 270m shuttle tankers where water that had scrubbed the exhaust gases corroded the pipework leading to water ingress.

“Corroded scrubber pipework and discharge outlets is a serious problem, and we’re seeing more and more of it,” said Dave Bleyenberg, Hydrex production executive.

In the case of the shuttle tankers the corroded parts of the pipe were cut away and replaced with the installation of a new flange and diffuser which were fabricated onsite. The internal surface of the new pipe was coated using Ecospeed, a highly chemical resistant coating product from Hydrex’s sister company Subsea Industries.

“Taking into account the nature of the process taking place inside a scrubber, this is essential for a lasting protection of the pipe,” said Bleyenberg.

The problems with corrosion are not restricted to the two shuttle tankers. “We have noted an increase in repairs to corroded pipework and outlets, which does appear to correspond with the increase in the number of ships fitted with scrubbers,” he said.

“These systems remove harmful sulphur oxide compounds from the exhaust gasses of marine diesel engines burning high-sulphur heavy fuel oils. However, the resulting residue removed from these gases can have a rapid and highly corrosive effect on the scrubbers’ internal pipework and outlets.”

Scrubbers are one of the alternatives available to owners to meet low sulphur fuel requirements in Emission Control Areas, and the 0.5% global sulphur cap for marine fuel from 2020.