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Significant numbers expected to ignore sulphur cap rules

With as many as 2,250 vessels are likely to be fitted with scrubbers by the start of 2020, shipping market forecaster MSI anticipates a ‘significant amount’ of non-compliance

Recent bans on open-loop scrubber usage in China and Singapore adds further operational pressure and economic uncertainty on scrubber usage, MSI says

AN INDUSTRY forecaster is predicting significant non-compliance when the International Maritime Organization sulphur fuel cap comes into force at the start of 2020.

MSI has tabled the forecast even though it expects 10% of the tanker and bulker fleets by deadweight are likely to install scrubbers by the start of 2020.

The controversial clean-up technology will be concentrated in the larger segments of these markets. More than 20% of very large crude carriers and close to 15% of capesize vessels will have scrubbers fitted by the time the regulation is introduced on the first day of 2020.

Containerships will also see larger sizes attract scrubber installation, with about 15% of +7,600 teu vessels expected to be scrubber fitted by end-2019.

With much lower scrubber penetration in the medium and small containership markets, the proportion of total containership capacity fitted with scrubbers by end-2019 is expected to be close to 10%.

In other commodity shipping sectors, scrubber usage will mirror this pattern, with about 20% of the 40,000 CuM-plus liquefied petroleum gas fleet fitted, but minimal amounts of smaller tonnage.

Cruise ships will see about 40% of the fleet with scrubbers installed by end-2019, the highest proportion of any shipping sector, with ro-ro at 15%.

The concentration of scrubber usage in larger segments of main shipping sectors means that even though MSI forecasts about 2,000-2,500 ships to be fitted with scrubbers at the start of 2020, legitimate scrubber fuel oil usage in 2020 will make up close to 5-10% of total fuel demand.

Nonetheless, explicit fuel oil use — not including blending for low sulphur fuel oil — will be closer to about 17% of total demand, with MSI anticipating a “significant amount” of non-compliance.

The recent bans on open-loop scrubber usage in China and Singapore add further operational pressure and economic uncertainty on scrubber usage, MSI added.

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