As Panama follows those who have already prohibited the use of open loop scrubbers, the Authority issued two marine notices informing of the steps to be taken to be in line with the Canal's requirements; In essence:

The alternative fuels that ships should burn are:

  • LNG fuel
  • Biofuels
  • Closed-loop scrubbers (EGCS)
  • ULSFO and VLSFO not exceeding a viscosity of 70 cst at 50 deg C.

The Panama Canal states that

All vessels proceeding to Panama Canal waters for transit shall switch from residual fuel to marine distillate fuel prior to arriving at Panama Canal waters.

The vessels that are making a call to a local port and not transiting are not required to switch to a compliant fuel. 

In addition, the vessels that anchor before entering the canal, will be permitted to use residual fuel for their auxiliary generator engines, boilers, and other ancillary equipment while at the Pacific and Atlantic Anchorages, only if they are capable of maintaining their main propulsion engines simultaneously on marine distillate fuel.

Also, closed loop scrubbers and hybrid scrubbers in a closed loop mode shall retain all effluents on board.

  • Fuel Requirements in the Panama Canal recommendations:

#1 Vessels arriving at Panama Cana waters have to switch residual fuels to marine distillate fuels being used for their main propulsion engines, boilers, auxiliary generator engines, and other ancillary equipment.

#2 Vessels shall record the fuel changeover in their Engine Room Logbook and/or Fuel Oil Changeover Record Book.

#3 After completion of any changeover to marine distillate fuel, the vessel shall verify that the main propulsion engine operates properly.

Vessels may supplement or replace marine distillate fuels with any of the following:

  • LNG fuel (including boil-off gas)
  • Biofuels compliant with MARPOL Annex VI
  • ULSFO or VLSFO not exceeding a viscosity of 70 centistokes at 50°C.

Those that will make use of closed loop scrubbers or hybrid scrubbers in closed loop and zero discharge mode, are required to issue to the Authority the following papers for evaluation, at least 96 hours prior to ETA at Panama Canal waters:

  • Copy of the Supplement to the IAPP Certificate
  • Total volume of effluent holding tanks
  • Total time (in hours) required to reach the capacity of the effluent holding tanks when operating in zero discharge mode. Effluent holding tanks shall be empty upon arrival at Panama Canal waters.