Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Panama Canal Lays Out Ship Emission Requirements to Comply with the Incoming IMO Sulphur Fuel Cap

Open Loop Scrubber Technology Completely Banned
Shipping News Feature

PANAMA – As the luminaries of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) gather in London to discuss greenhouse gas emissions from shipping, just like Christmas the inception date for its previously agreed sulphur cap legislation looms only a week after, and there is a buzz throughout the industry as questions regarding what is, and isn’t allowed from January 1.

Last week the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) released an advisory notice to all companies to outline exactly what the terms are for those wishing to transit, particularly important for any lies which are making use of scrubber technology to mitigate their emissions.

The ACP has decreed that open loop scrubbers, those that clean the exhaust gases of the vessel using sea water, are completely banned from the Canal. This is to preserve the fresh water areas of the Canal itself, particularly the fresh water reservoirs. Closed loop and hybrid scrubbers are acceptable but must retain all effluent aboard the ship.

The published notice affects all vessels anchoring, transiting, and docking at terminals in Panama Canal waters. The mandatory instructions in NT NOTICE TO SHIPPING No. N-1-2019 ‘Vessel Requirements’ is maintained. All vessels proceeding to Panama Canal waters for transit not using permitted scrubber technologies must switch from residual fuel to marine distillate fuel prior to arriving at Panama Canal waters.

However the requirements allow for cases whereby vessels may supplement or replace marine distillate fuels with LNG fuel, biofuels and ULSFO & VLSFO not exceeding a viscosity of 70 centistokes @ 50°C. Some exceptions will still apply to the requirement to switch to marine distillate fuel. Vessels making only a local port call and not transiting will not be required to switch to marine distillate fuel.

Additionally, vessels anchoring prior to transit 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.