China prohibiting open-loop scrubber systems

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has prohibited open-loop scrubber systems in all ports and emission control areas (ECAs) of the PRC, effective January 1st 2019. The ECAs cover most of the PRC’s coastline and inland waterways.

The burning of 3.5% sulphur fuel will still be permitted in these ECAs, but only where scrubbers are used to reduce the sulphur content of emissions to a level equivalent to the burning of 0.5% sulphur content fuel. Only closed-loop scrubbers will now be permitted in these PRC ECAs.

To date, Belgium, Germany (its inland waterways, canals and ports within those inland waterways), the port of Dublin, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, USA (California and Connecticut ports and waters) and Singapore have indicated that open-loop scrubbers will be barred.

American Club recommended that Members with vessels fitted with hybrid scrubbers should either switch to a closed-loop mode, or burn 0.5% sulphur compliant fuel prior to arrival in port waters.

China said last September it would impose tighter rules from October 1st 2018, on emissions from vessels in and around the ports in the Yangtze River Delta, with plans to later extend this ECA to include the country’s entire coastline.

The PRC’s marine authority said in the document dated December 29th that a timeline to expand the ban of wash water discharge to more coastal ports would be announced “at an appropriate time”.

Open-loop scrubbers use seawater to capture sulphur from engine exhausts before discharging the wash water back into the ocean after treatment. In closed-loop systems the scrubbing is performed using water treated with additives, recycling the liquid internally. Hybrid scrubbers are a combination of both.