Delays to scrubber retrofits mounting

Lawyers are set to be one of the main early beneficiaries from the start of the global sulphur cap with Splash receiving multiple reports from across the world of shipyards falling far behind in their scrubber retrofitting schedules.

The retrofits have taken longer than anticipated with many owners and managers confiding that they have experienced unforeseen technical glitches as they get their exhaust gas cleaning systems installed ahead of the January 1 start of the sulphur cap.

“This is a relatively new technique, so it seems that the size of task was underestimated,” one Singapore-based shipping consultant told Splash today.

What was marketed as taking less than a month off-hire is now regularly seeing ships in Chinese yards waiting for up to 60 days to get the new funnel equipment installed.

In its latest weekly report Alphatanker, part of AXS Marine, noted: “The past few weeks have seen a number of tonnage owners release statements indicating that their scrubber retrofitting programs were falling behind schedule. Notably, Diamond S Shipping has revealed that scrubbers on 3 of its Suezmaxes will not be fitted until 1Q20, from the original estimate of 4Q19. Meanwhile a number of non-publicly listed companies have revealed to Alphatanker that certain Chinese yards are running behind schedule due to the longer-than-expected installation time of scrubbers.”

With installations entering their peak phase for the coming three months, delays are expected to worsen.

The scrubber delays were predicted earlier this year by Greek brokers Intermodal who noted in a May report that almost all the shipyards worldwide were close to their maximum capacity.

Of concern for owners, Intermodal warned some shipyards have committed to accept more scrubber retrofits than they can actually accommodate, which will most probably result in greater delays.

Last month, Alfa Laval, one of the main scrubber manufacturers, predicted more than 5,000 ships would end up going in for scrubber retrofits.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


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