Emission Control: Are you ready for 2020?

We spoke to David Wing (below), Houlder Project Director, Ship Design & Engineering about the challenge of meeting new emission control regulations.

David wing on emission control challenges

From January 1st 2020, new International Maritime Organisation (IMO) MARPOL Global Sulphur Cap regulations will be enforced. A sulphur cap 0.5% (a reduction from previous 3.5%) will be enforced worldwide. The limit remains 0.10% within Sulphur Emissions Control Areas (SECA) including the North Sea. January 2020 is now less than 140 days away.

Our experience of the industry is that some have reacted promptly and positively to emission control changes however other marine operators have yet to make a firm commitment to a solution. For them, there is now perhaps too little time to fit exhaust gas cleaning scrubbers as an option for compliance. Instead the priority is switching to fuels that comply with the new lower emission levels either permanently or as an interim measure.

Choosing the fuel will be based on several considerations including price and availability.  Perhaps the most over-riding, however, is the compatibility of existing equipment and systems on board and their operational performance. New fuels may require modifications to tanks to satisfy fuel segregation and separation requirements, additional sampling points, appropriate lube oils and new procedures. Even if upgrades or replacements are not required, there will be an impact on operations and maintenance regimes during the switch-over. This is where expert opinion can reduce the risk of costly failures. One thing to note, for European vessels, is that the switch-over comes during mid-winter when more demanding environmental conditions lead to higher engine loads, making the right fuel choice and careful management of this period critical to safe operation.

Looking further ahead to 2021, Tier III NOx requirements are now an essential consideration for owners looking at new ships to operate within the Baltic and North Sea ECA areas. In most cases, Tier III compliance will mean more costly operations. This may influence owners to reassess the economic life of older vessels. Their investment may be better spent on upgrading current machinery, maintaining steelwork, increased automation or a refresh of the passenger areas.  If they are committed to new vessels, knowing that Tier III vessels will need higher OPEX designers minds will turn to reducing fuel use, crew and other costs or providing higher capacities and revenue generation potential to compete with existing tonnage.

In summary, the impact of the new regulations will vary depending on the age of your vessel, the regions in which you operate and your view on long term investment or implementing shorter term interim measures. Overall, there’s a need to calculate the most efficient package of measures for you and your operations. This is where engaging with independent expertise can prove most valuable.

You can contact David Wing about any emission control requirements through david.wing@houlderltd.com or on +44 (0)23 9287 5277.

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Rupert Hare, Chief Executive Officer

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