Compliance Duel: Low Sulphur Fuel or Exhaust Gas Scrubbers?

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Low Sulphur Fuel or Exhaust Gas Scrubber

In a recent reader survey conducted by Logistics Management (LM), more than 90 % of the respondents have answered that they have “little or no awareness” of IMO 2020 and the impending regulations, while 80% have done no analysis or forecasting relating to the impact on their domestic transportation cost¹. With less than 100 days before the nearing deadline of IMO 2020, the shipping industry is queuing up for getting scrubbers installed while some others are preparing for using very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) and marine gas oil. Both routes could come at a high price. In this blog, learn the difference between choosing VLSFO/MDO and Exhaust Scrubber Systems to help you decide how to comply with the regulation.

Cheaper compliant fuel oil?

When new global rules limiting the amount of sulphur in shipping fuels were announced, few companies have chosen to switch to cheaper compliant fuel oil such as very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO) and marine gasoil (MGO). However, there has been a gap with some ship engines in terms of compatibility as some does not support low sulphur fuel due to the engine’s internal design and mechanism. In addition to this, in order to make vessels compatible with VLSFO, ships need to clean and prepare their tanks and fuel systems for low sulphur compliant fuel tanks to it compatible. But the hesitation in switching compliant fuel oils has not been about the process of engine compatibility but about the uncertainty of fuel costs over time. There have been increased difficulties with handling the new marine fuels, managing more systems onboard ships and ensuring getting compliant liquids in ships at smaller ports – all leading to potentially higher freight rates and market volatility. Choppy waters are likely to persist at least for the first half of next year no matter the planning, and a trade dispute between the US and China has only added to the risk.

Can Exhaust Gas Scrubber Systems be the answer?

Exhaust Gas Scrubber Systems are in demand because the cost implications of low fuel sulphur are quite high. As per the industrial analysis, it can be seen that ship owners are choosing scrubber systems over the low sulphur fuel oil due to the high costs of transforming engines into low sulphur fuel compatibility and the expected price difference between low sulphur fuels and HFO. 

The best advantage of using scrubber systems is its ability to support low-cost high sulphur oil while complying to the 0.5% sulphur cap. Exhaust Gas Scrubbers work by scrubbing out harmful particulates and sulphur gases from the emission. Debates have been made as to whether the scrubber wash water affects the environment in turn. In a new independent study conducted by CE Delft, it has been found that the environmental impact from accumulated scrubber wash water in ports are negligible ² In terms of the cost factor, the scrubber systems offer a good return on investment over a period of significant time as compared to the high-cost low sulphur fuels and its complications.

Another challenge around exhaust gas cleaning kits, or scrubbers, has also escalated, with several market sources confirming that the next few quarters will see congestion in yards that retrofit the equipment. That is why with Kamelia Cleantech designs and manufactures end-to-end full integrated scrubber solutions that can be installed “on-voyage” (partly at the quayside and partly when the ship is in transit).

No More Downtime? Choose Kamelia Cleantech Scrubbers

Our clients have chosen us for one good reason, we ensure minimal opportunity cost and reduced downtime. Since Kamelia Cleantech exhaust gas scrubbers system can be installed on-voyage, downtime is typically only 1 week which reduces opportunity cost typically by 70 %. No drydocking, or cofferdams required for scrubber system installation. We utilise proven oil and gas industry technology for underwater penetrations. 

You can select from our complete range of scrubber technology from Open-Loop, Hybrid-ready, and Hybrid System Scrubbers. To know more about Kamelia Cleantech scrubbers, its benefits, costs and installation procedures, send us an email at and our Scrubber Experts will be more than happy to assist you.




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