Uncertainty is continues to prevail across the shipping industry over the impending IMO regulations, to reduce the level of sulphur oxide emissions from ship's exhaust, from January 1, 2020.
The amendments to the MARPOL regulations stipulates that sulphur content in the exhaust from ships should be brought down from 3.5 per cent m/m (Mass on mass) to 0.5 per cent worldwide.
Major ports in the country are now getting inquiries from shipping companies on accepting scrubbers on ships in the respective ports.
“Installing scrubbers is an option to reduce the content in the gases before being released into the air. The scrubbers would wash the exhaust gas from ships to bring the sulphur content down before releasing it to the atmosphere. The water used for washing eventually has to go into the sea,” sources in the industry said.
However, ports such as Singapore are refusing to accept the use of scrubbers on ships in their ports due to water pollution, said Tom Joseph, president, Nautical Institute India (South West). There are also suggestions to evolve a national policy on that will be acceptable to India. Since the issue pertains to the implementation of MARPOL regulations, DG Shipping as the regulator of shipping in India and representing India in IMO conventions, would be the authority best suited to formulate the policy.
Experts in the sector pointed out that the new limits can also be achieved by changing to cleaner fuel such as Marine Diesel Oil which will not require any modifications on the ship's engines.
About 4 million barrels of Fuel Oil burnt in a day: It is estimated that the world's shipping burn about four million barrels a day of Fuel Oil, which is a very low grade of oil.
“The shipping industry is also worried over the shift to a new form of fuel considering the high cost involved, which would be higher by at least 25 to 40 per cent. The emerging situation warrants developing a new blend of oil for ships and probably gas oil with very low sulphur content and it can be blended with heavy fuel to lower sulphur content,” the experts said.
According to Rajesh Unni, Founder and CEO of the Chennai-based Synergy Group, the proposed regulation would be a major boost to the environmental performance of ocean freight and a fantastic leap for the industry, as the sector push for sustainability and emission free operations. There will be challenges and as an industry lets always be resilient to such changes.
Asked whether the changes in fuel norms provide opportunities for Indian shipyards to install scrubbers in ships, Unni said “The opportunity for Indian yards to work on scrubber installations is almost sailed. Shipyards in China, Korea and Turkey have taken advantage and obviously are better prepared than the Indian yards.”
“However, there will be opportunities like the IMO goal of 50 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 and Indian yards can find ways to seize such opportunities,” he added.