The higher the fuel consumption of a ship, the greater the possibility that the shipowner will opt for a scrubber to comply with the new limit on sulfur content in marine fuels, which came into force on 01 January 2020. This is shown by the figures published by BIMCO in its analysis of trends in the solid bulk shipping sector.
In the segment of larger bulk carriers and, consequently, higher consumption, the capesize, valemax and VLOC (Very Large Ore Carriers), the proportion of vessels equipped with scrubbers is between 85% and 100%. In only 13 of the 96 ships delivered did the shipowner opt to use very low sulfur fuel oil (VLSFO). Among panamaxes, this proportion stood at 54%, with owners choosing to install exhaust scrubbers on 81 vessels out of 150 delivered.
Among smaller vessels, about one in three new-build handymax bulk carriers opted to install a scrubber. In contrast, only three were installed in the handysize sector, 4% of the total 67 newbuilding vessels of this size delivered in 2020.
According to Peter Sand, chief analyst at BIMCO, the trend is clear even though the fuel price differential between low-sulfur fuels and conventional fuel oil has been much lower than expected. “Still, so far in 2020, the average spot market revenue for a capesize with scrubbers is about $2,818/day, 27% higher than for a vessel of the same size without scrubbers,” Sand concludes.