The key options on the table range from the installation of
scrubbers to replacing high sulphur fuel (HSFO) by burning cleaner fuels, such
as low sulphur fuel oil (LSFO), LPG or LNG.
Space is often limited on a small chemical tanker, so
fitting a scrubber is not always an option. And even where space is available,
the high Capex of USD 1.5-2.0 million per ship for retrofitting is proving to
be a further obstacle.
According to Drewry, statistics reveal that only 21 chemical
tankers in the current fleet have scrubbers installed, while an additional 76
vessels are pending installation as of January 1, 2019. In effect, at the start
of 2019, almost 98% of the existing chemical fleet is facing the prospect of
having to use high-cost cleaner fuels when the regulation comes into force in
Some 18 coated chemical tankers have been converted to use
LNG on a dual-fuel basis and there are eight methanol-fuelled vessels (along
with four on order) trading chemicals. However, for a large part of the
remaining chemical fleet, it looks like more expensive fuel will be the order
of the day.
“There is no doubt that between now and the deadline, some
further retrofitting of scrubbers will take place. Yet, at best, it can only be
small scale, and we think most chemical tankers will be forced to burn cleaner,
but higher cost fuels when the IMO regulation comes into force in 2020. This
raises the question of whether owners will be able to pass on higher costs to
charterers. Given the current dynamics of the sector as a whole, this must be
in doubt, and we think profitability in chemical shipping will continue to be
squeezed in 2020,” Drewry said.