Maersk has change of heart on scrubbers

In a significant volte-face Maersk has decided to install scrubbers on some of its boxships ahead of the January 1, 2020 global sulphur cap.

Maersk had previously stood out as one of the largest shipping companies to have avoided going down the scrubber or LNG route for cap compliance, saying in public it would pursue a low sulphur fuel strategy. To this end, last month it tied up with Vopak to create a low sulphur bunkering facility at the port of Rotterdam that will be capable of fuelling up to a fifth of the Maersk fleet.

However, in comments to Reuters, a Maersk official stated the company has now decided to hedge its bets with just over 15 months to go until the IMO cap deadline kicks in.

“As part of the preparations we have decided to invest in new scrubber technology on a limited number of vessels in our fleet of around 750 container vessels,” Niels-Henrik Lindegaard, head of Maersk Oil Trading told Reuters in an email.

“Using scrubber technology is a small part of – and just one of several elements in – our overall 2020 fuel sourcing strategy to ensure compliance in time,” he said.

Lindegaard did however go on to stress that the group was still adamant low sulphur fuel was the best path ahead for the Danish shipping giant.

“While we will continue to explore how to best comply with the 2020 sulphur cap, we still believe the best solution remains with compliant fuels from refineries on land,” said Lindegaard.

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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