Ocean carriers calling at Malaysian ports from January 1, 2020, will have no other choice than to stock up with low sulphur fuel oil (less than 0.5% sulphur content), LNG or use closed-loop scrubbers.
This will have certain operational and cost issues for lines and particularly those, including Mediterranean Shipping Company, that have fitted, and continue to install open-loop scrubbers on many of their vessels.
It follows the Malaysian Government’s decision to ban the use of open-loop scrubbers in its territorial waters. Jabatan Laut Malaysia, the nation’s maritime regulator, posted on its website the following statement: “Malaysia prohibits the discharge of washwater from open-loop scrubbers while in our territorial waters (12 nautical miles from the nearest land).
It added: “Ships calling at Malaysian ports are advised to change over to compliance [sic] fuel oil or change over to closed-loop system (if hybrid system) before entering Malaysian waters and ports.”
Obviously, the decision affects the country’s main container ports, including Port Tanjung Pelepas, Port Klang and Penang. The former two ports are large transhipment hubs and the decision could have an impact on their traffic volumes if carriers decide to limit the number of services calling in Malaysia.
Other countries that ban the use of open-loop scrubbers include China, Singapore, Fujairah, (United Arab Emirates), Panama and some US states, including California, with over 80 ports believed to be affected. Interestingly, of those container vessels fitted with scrubbers and undergoing their installation, an estimated 80% of the designs are open-loop.