Brussels might have been in the firing line last week for its perceived move to stymie the use of open-loop scrubbers, yet it is actively helping finance the installation of the controversial technology on European vessels.
Dutch bank ING and the European Union’s European Investment Bank (EIB) have signed a EUR110m loan agreement to finance Dutch owner Spliethoff’s retrofit of 42 vessels with exhaust gas cleaning systems and ballast water management systems.
The loan is part of the ING and EIB €300m Green Shipping partnership signed in 2018, to support sponsors of “green and sustainable projects” in the maritime transport sector with advantageous financial terms. The EIB will contribute €49.5m to a €110.4m ING Bank arranged facility for Spliethoff.
Michel Fransen, CFO of the Spliethoff Group, said: “We have been installing scrubbers on our fleet since 2013 and are very happy with the results so far. Scrubbers are a very environmentally friendly solution to comply with the 2020 regulations. LNG or hydrogen may have the potential to become even better alternatives in the future, but only in the longer term. The investment in scrubbers also safeguards the interest of our shareholders against uncertainties in fuel availability and pricing.”
Last week, the pro-scrubber lobbying group, Clean Shipping Alliance 2020 (CSA 2020), hit out at a proposal submitted by the European Commission (EC) which urges the IMO to change its scrubber guidelines.
The proposal calls for “evaluation and harmonization” of scrubber discharges across all ports, worldwide. The proposal is intended for consideration by the 74th session of the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 74) which meets in May, in London.
“This proposal is an attempt by the European Commission to push forward restrictions on scrubbers, which are accepted globally by the IMO, EU and others as acceptable means of improving air emissions quality in controlled areas” said CSA 2020 executive director Ian Adams. Adams, recently installed at CSA 2020, said the European proposal was based mostly on speculation and lacked credible evidence.