Text Sepi Roshan

The World Maritime theme for 2020 is "Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet" and aligns well with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) sulphur oxides (SOx) limits on shipping fuel.

Referred to as IMO 2020, new regulations effective from 1 January, 2020 limit SOx levels to 0.50% m/m (mass by mass) – reduced from 3.50% m/m. IMO 2020 seeks to balance concerns about human health, air quality and environmental protection with the shipping industry’s important function of transporting large quantities of vital cargo around the world. The popular choices for shipping companies to meet this new limit have been to install exhaust gas cleaning systems (scrubbers) to remove sulphur from the cheaper, high-sulphur fuel or upgrade their engines to process low-sulphur diesel fuels.


Choices to make

The impact of COVID-19 has meant that companies are reassessing their budgets and how they will minimise their compliance costs in the short term. Container ships have tended to adopt the scrubber option but companies are increasingly attracted to low-sulphur diesel fuel because of significant price reductions triggered by COVID-19. The challenge for shipping companies is whether to gamble on low-sulphur diesel fuel prices remaining low and accessing sufficient supplies, or focus on longer term efficiencies by installing scrubbers.

Future proofing compliance

Scrubber manufacturers are ultimately responsible for ensuring their products can help shipping companies meet emission limits. However, dampers, which are important components to scrubbers, also play a significant role in ensuring regulatory compliance. Ship owners risk penalties should dampers leak or malfunction and cause emissions to exceed the IMO 2020 limit. Remedial services can resolve functional problems and extend damper life. Because scrubbers are turnkey deliveries, preventative measures can mitigate the risk of non-compliance, reduce downtime and minimise the high upfront investment involved in installing scrubbers. For instance, Sammet’s damper consultations services help companies avoid unnecessary costs or functional problems by identifying appropriate damper solutions before they invest in new equipment. 

Who is the IMO?

The IMO is the United Nations specialised agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships (www.imo.org).  It meets regularly and from September to December, 2020 the IMO will meet virtually to address procedural matters as part of its commitment to a sustainable shipping future in a post COVID-19 world.  Also, this year’s live IMO World Maritime Day Parallel Event which was to be held in October, 2020 has been postponed until 2021. Instead, World Maritime Day 2020 will be celebrated with an online event organised by the IMO Secretariat on 24 September, 2020.