MSC blames virus-related scrubber delays for IMO 2020 violation

MSC blames virus-related scrubber delays for IMO 2020 violation
The vessel called Jebel Ali earlier in March

Following the one-year ban of the MSC Joanna from UAE waters for breaching the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) rules on high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO), MSC has explained that shipyard backlogs resulting from the coronavirus outbreak have delayed scrubber installations.

The UAE’s Federal Transport Authority stated that the ship, which has a capacity of  9,784 teu, was carrying 700 tonnes of HSFO when it called at Jebel Ali port earlier in March.

In a statement, the carrier pointed out that it has and continues to make significant investments in the fleet with the installation of IMO-approved exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS).

These “scrubber” technologies clean emissions from traditional marine fuel and are being used across the container shipping industry today. They even have the potential to produce lower sulphur emissions than fuel with 0.5% sulphur content, added MSC.

However it stated: “Many of the shipyards where EGCS installation has been taking place are in areas affected by the current COVID-19 pandemic and this has generated a large backlog of installations for shipowners.

“In particular, Chinese shipyards were closed or partially closed for a significant period of time following the extended Lunar New Year holiday as the country grappled with the new coronavirus outbreak. This has impacted shipowners’ schedules for retrofitting ships, as has been widely documented in the media.”

The shipping line acknowledged that the MSC JOANNA is one of those ships which has been subject to an EGCS delay and its installation is currently scheduled for June 2020.

It added: “MSC would like to point out to customers and partners that our fleet, our business and the vital transport and logistics services we provide to the world economy are continuing to operate despite the COVID-19 pandemic and despite the temporary global setback for shipowners around EGCS installation.

“We have sufficient arrangements in place for compliant low-sulphur fuel to maintain our commitment to IMO 2020 and we will implement orders for EGCS as part of a planned diversification strategy where appropriate in due course.”