The Emirati port of Fujairah has placed a ban on open-loop scrubbers, following similar announcements from Singapore and China in recent weeks.
The UAE port’s harbour master Captain Tamer Masoud confirmed the ban to this publication, saying closed-loop versions of exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCSs) were still allowed to be used.
“We cannot allow discharge of any water, wash water, from EGCSs,” he said.
Captain Masoud, on behalf of the Port of Fujairah, published a fax communication on the port’s website directed to ‘All Agents / Bunkering Companies / De-Sloping Companies / Oil Terminals Users' and telling them to advise their principals of the ban.
“Please be advised that Port of Fujairah has decided to ban the use of open-loop scrubbers in its waters,” the missive said.
“Ships will have to use compliant fuel once the IMO 2020 sulphur cap comes into force.”
Captain Masoud said the new rule was an update to an earlier notice, Notice to Mariners 148, in which the port decided to prohibit discharge of untreated scrubber wash water.
With its ban, Fujairah has joined a growing list of other ports with regulations on discharge from exhaust gas cleaning systems.
From 1 January, 2019, China has banned the discharge of open-loop exhaust gas cleaning system wash water in inland river ECAs, port water areas of coastal ECAs, and in Bohai Bay.
In November 2018, Singapore’s Maritime Port Authority announced it would ban the discharge of washwater in its ports, effectively banning ships from using wet, open-loop scrubber systems in waters off one of the world's largest bunkering ports.
The Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems Association (EGCSA) has responded to both the Chinese regulations and Singapore's ban.
Following the news about China, director Don Gregory said "At the end of the day, we all support reducing or eliminating emissions to air, and we of course would not wish to do that at the expense of the aquatic environment. As an industry we have worked hard to look at the components and compounds being discharged in washwater and how, if at [all], they might be creating short- or long-term impacts and if those impacts are short-lived or more of a chronic nature.”
In addition to Singapore and parts of China’s ECAs, discharge from open-loop scrubbers is currently banned in Belgium, and Germany has a partial ban along sections of the Rhine. Australia, too, has reportedly considered a ban. Open-loop scrubbers, the most common used system, discharge emissions residue into the sea, as opposed to closed-loop scrubbers which collect the residue on board the ship for later discharge in port.