U.S. shipping line Matson has kicked off the installation of exhaust gas cleaning systems, aka scrubbers, on six of its vessels deployed as part of its compliance strategy with International Maritime Organization (IMO) low sulphur fuel regulations that will take effect on January 1, 2020.
Three of the vessels will receive the new equipment in 2019 and the remaining three in 2020.
The six vessels serve Matson’s Hawaii and China-Long Beach Express services. The company notes that while new IMO 2020 compliant fuels have been in development for years in anticipation of the change, there is still uncertainty about their costs and availability. Alternatively, infrastructure for production and distribution of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) remains insufficient to support Matson’s operations in the Pacific, the company says.
“Because of unpredictability in the way fuel markets may develop over the next few years, Matson’s IMO compliance strategy retains the flexibility to implement the most economical solution as conditions evolve,” said John Lauer, senior vice president and chief commercial officer.
To meet the IMO requirements, Matson has embarked on replacing older vessels with four new ships that are equipped with dual-fuel engines designed to run on new low-sulfur fuels or LNG. Matson’s second component involves expanded use of exhaust gas cleaning systems, or “scrubbers,” which enable vessels to achieve compliance with the new IMO regulations while continuing to use existing higher sulphur fuels.
Matson has already installed scrubber systems on three vessels in its Alaska fleet in 2015 and 2016.
Similar to the systems Matson deploys in Alaska, the scrubber technology being installed in the six additional vessels will reduce sulfur oxides (SOx) emissions to levels at or below the limits set by the new IMO regulations, and below those of vessels using low-sulfur fuel.
“With the deployment of dual-fuel engines in new ships and scrubbers in additional vessels, Matson will be able to meet or exceed the IMO 2020 emission standard while mitigating the expected higher cost of low-sulfur fuel over more than half of its current fleet,” the company said in a statement.