Scrubbers are an alternative to high cost low Sulphur fuel. The following timeline shows the schedule for implementation of the SOx regulation.  Here we can see that in 2018 IMO was expected to complete a feasibility study of the availability of global supply of low sulphur diesel or other alternative technologies.  Fortunately that study is being completed early (Jun e of 2016) and a decision (or indication) as to implementation of the global 0.5%S requirement in 2020 or 2025 may be taken as early as October of 2016.

Confuorto 1

BP has given us a very good opinion as to what the fuel prices are doing - which is, “nobody knows”. The following graph depicts what we, in 2013-2014, thought it would happen to the market.

Confuorto 2

However, the following graph shows what really happened to the oil price in 2015:

Confuorto 3

Nobody anticipated it, but it happened because OPEC lost control. There was also some hope by some other industries that maybe Iran was going to come in and do all this fuel lowering even further. Iran, at this stage, is saying no; who knows what’s going to happen, nobody knows for sure. But even with lower price, I am sure there will be a differential between the price of high Sulfur and low Sulfur fuels. It is not as great as it was a couple of years ago; it is almost half. But it is still there.  A couple of years ago you could pay off a scrubber project in a year or a year and a half, however, it takes now two or three years. The driver for our business is in fact the differential between high Sulfur and low Sulfur fuel prices. Fuel pricing in Fujaira, Houston and Rotterdam shows that the differential has not gone away. So, it all goes down to economics. Does it make sense for the ship owner or the operator to do this and save money or not. Scrubber Technology is great, LNG is great, but if it does not make money, it is not going to happen. Now, I think what is importantis the demand because right now the refineries are putting out as much of the MGO as they can. They can probably push it a little more but they are looking at what the demand is before they make any real investments. The demand for the next fourty years is predicted to go considerably up and at that point they are going to have started investing money to develop low Sulfur fuel and the issue is going to be how much money they are willing to invest. Each refinery will need about a $ billion to develop the loss of fuel capabilities to support 2020. If everybody decide to go low Sulfur fuel about one hundred billion has to be spent in the next few years and based on what OPEC is saying, you may need about $600 per ton to pay for that investment.

Therefore, if we all decide to go low Sulfur fuel and if the refineries decide to make the investment, the differential is no longer going to be $150-200 but it is going to be $500-700 and I think that is where we are heading even if the report will say that the refineries can do this and that there are sufficient scrubber supplier to provide their services.  There are about 24 companies that sell scrubbers nowadays; DuPont and my company CR OCEAN ENGINEERING are only two of them. Others are Wartsila or Alfa Laval as well as many others. Even though we have many scrubber companies, some shipowners may think that there may not be enough of companies to do the total supply of all the ships by 2020 or 2025 if in fact everybody decided to go scrubber. Therefore, what we are expecting is a mix: some companies will go LNG, some companies will go scrubbers; we know Stena is putting some additional methanol driven ships together, so there is going to be a mix of technologies and I think that makes it possible to meet 2020, if the decision is made this year.  One think we know for sure is that the fuel pricing differential will still be there and it will most likely increase.

Any type of ship can be using scrubber technology. Our scrubbers look pretty much like any other scrubbers nowadays. They used to be different before with some designs having an inlet from the side and some from the top but now what seems to be the most efficient approach is to go straight up like ours. Our scrubber is all metallic, with dry run capability so you can shut off the water without having to bypass the scrubber. It is also more quite than the original silencers. The ships on which we have installed scrubbers have tested them and they are very quiet compared to the original design of the silencer. We replace the latter and that’s where we fit the scrubbers and we have the same size as the silencer. Fitting within the existing funnel sounds fairly easy. However, nothing is easy of course depending on where the silencer is located.

The following picture shows what a scrubber looks like. These scrubbers have placed silencers on a bulk carrier. We have two side-by-side scrubbers on the ship; the silencer came out and the scrubbers went in. You can see where the old silencer supports were burnt off, so no change to the funnel were required. Putting a scrubber is only a portion of the work, then there is the setting of the equipment, the piping and the electrical.

In the following picture you can see the pumps:

Confuorto 5

Here are the control panels:

Confuorto 6

I mentioned two scrubbers side by side, so here we have two panels side by side. What you see is the panel size that we have. In the old days the panels used to take as much space as a room, now it is just a few panels on the wall. Everything is controlled including variable frequency drives. We put those right in there as well. You can have that P&ID view screen or better yet, the following one, with a red and green button for start and stop:

Confuorto 7

Now, the main thing that you are required to do as a ship owner is to meet the 0.1 equivalency. That means, for 0.1%S, a 4.3 SO2 to CO2 ratio. The pictures below show what we do with our scrubbers.  We have in many cases a zero ration well meeting the requirements:

Confuorto 8 Confuorto 9

Above text is an edited article of Nicholas Confuorto presentation during the 2016 GREEN4SEA Conference & Awards

You may view his presentation video by clicking here

Click here to view all the presentations of 2016 GREEN4SEA Conference & Awards

The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of  GREEN4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion  purposes only.


Confuorto_Nicholas Confuorto (Nick) is the President and Chief Operations Officer for CR Ocean Engineering LLC. In his present role Nick is responsible day to day activities and strategic initiatives for this exciting business entity. CR Ocean Engineering specializes in the design and supply of scrubbing systems for marine and offshore applications. Nick is also a founding member and the Chairman of the London based EGCSA (Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems Association). Since receiving his engineering degree from Columbia University in 1976, Nick focused his career in the field of environmental controls and has worked for some of the most respected corporate names in the air pollution controls industry. Drawing on more than 39 years of consulting, engineering, project management, purchasing, sales, marketing and research & development experience, Nick advices potential marine industry clients on the best approach and the best technology to be used for achieving the best results. Prior to his present position, Nick held executive roles in Sales/Marketing, Operations, Engineering, Research & Development, Purchasing, Project Management and Subcontracting. Nick has authored many technical papers, magazine articles and books on the reduction of pollutants from various industries.