Published: Jan 30, 2019

Port of Fujairah Bans Use of Open-Loop Scrubbers

Please be advised that the Port of Fujairah recently issued a notice banning the use of open-loop scrubbers in port waters. Notice to Mariners No. 252, issued by the Harbour Master, states:

“[The] Port of Fujairah has decided to ban the use of open-loop scrubbers in its waters. Ships will have to use compliant fuel once the IMO 2020 sulphur cap comes into force.”

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) will cap the permitted sulphur content in marine fuels at 0.5% from 1 January 2020, down from the current 3.5%. In anticipation of these restrictions, many shipowners have fitted open-loop scrubbing systems aimed at reducing the sulphur content to permissible levels.

With the ban, shipowners will now have to look to other options such as using cleaner (but more expensive) fuels, installing closed-loop or hybrid systems, or redesigning vessels to operate on alternative fuels such as liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Open-loop scrubbing systems are generally considered the easiest, and cheapest, onboard fuel treatment system. Exhaust gases are sprayed in the scrubber with seawater. The system relies on the seawater’s natural alkalinity, and forms sulphuric acid, which is then discharged into the surrounding waters (known as the wash-water).

The Port’s ban on open-loop scrubbers follows similar moves by other major international shipping hubs, notably Singapore and China. The reason generally cited for banning open-loop scrubbers is the potentially detrimental effect the wash-water may have on the surrounding marine environment. Advocates of open-loop scrubbers maintain that the wash-water causes no such harm.


Key Contact:

James Newdigate
Senior Associate, Transport & Insurance

Omar Omar
Partner, Head of Transport & Insurance