In a move reminiscent of the old Remington shaver advert, Frontline has not only ordered a large number of scrubbers from Feen Marine Scrubbers, it has also agreed to purchase 20% of the company. The move by Frontline puts the scrubber debate back at the top of the agenda. At the Intertanko annual tanker event in Rome, 61% of the responding delegates voted not to fit scrubbers.
Frontline has agreed to order Feen Marine Scrubbers exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) for 14 vessels, with options to order an additional 22 systems at fixed prices.
Frontline Management chief executive Robert Hvide Macleod said “The economic case to install scrubbers is very compelling, particularly for larger vessels. Scrubbers installed on existing vessels provide the same benefit as those delivered from the yard on newbuildings and our solution comes at a much cheaper cost. Additionally, this transaction allows Frontline to secure the capacity to source a large volume of scrubbers, which we believe will present a challenge to many owners as the deadline for sulphur emissions compliance approaches.”
Feen Marine Scrubbers founder Bjørnar Feen said “We are extremely pleased to establish a partnership with Frontline, one of the world's most prominent shipping companies. We believe that this memorandum of agreement is indicative of both Frontline's industry-leading approach to managing its fleet as well as the high quality EGCS systems Feen Marine produces. We are proud that some of the world's largest shipping and trading companies, including Frontline, Navig8 Group and Trafigura have chosen Feen Marine as their main provider of EGCS systems.”
No doubt Frontline looked very closely at the issue, and conducted a ‘beauty parade’ of the available EGSA systems, but fellow tanker giant, Teekay, has chosen to go in a different direction.
According to Frontline, up to 36 vessels will be fitted with Feen Marine scrubbers, which could significantly raise the number fitted, but is still tiny compared to the world fleet. Estimates of the numbers of vessels currently fitted with scrubbers vary from 300 to Shell’s belief that fewer than 2,000 ships will be fitted with scrubbers to continue running on high sulphur fuel oil by 2020.
This is the quandary facing owners, should they fit scrubbers now, without knowing the price spread and payback period, or rely on compliant fuels? This period of uncertainty also offers opportunities to tell a different kind of eco tanker story.
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