1.2.1. Do I have to specify anything new about bunker requirements if I have a scrubber?
In the description of the grade and specification of fuel to be provided by charterers, we recommend that owners clearly state the maximum sulphur content of the required fuel to be delivered in order to allow the scrubber to operate in compliance with MARPOL Annex VI. Note that if the scrubber will not be used to (or cannot) scrub down to 0.10% m/m, in order to comply with the ECA requirements of MARPOL Annex VI Regulation 14.3-4, the bunker requirements in the charter party will need also to provide for the supply by charterers of 0.10% m/m sulphur fuel oil for use in ECAs.
The grade and specification of the fuel oil to be supplied will depend on the individual scrubber system installed on the ship. Owners may consider imposing a limit of 3.50% m/m sulphur content in the charter party given that this has been the maximum permitted sulphur limit under MARPOL Annex VI Regulation 14.1 since January 2012. After 1 January 2020 the 3.50% m/m cap falls away and in the absence of such a cap the sulphur content of any high sulphur fuel oil available may increase.
As only a relatively small percentage of the world fleet is fitted with scrubbers, the demand for high sulphur fuel oil will drop significantly. The sulphur content of high sulphur fuel oil produced and available may in fact rise after 2020 as demand drops and refiners can make savings in the production phase by exceeding 3.50% m/m. Manufacturers’ warranties for scrubber systems should therefore be checked to see if the installed scrubber is warranted to be capable of cleaning the exhaust gas to the required level when burning fuels with sulphur content in excess of 3.50% m/m. Owners may wish to consider specifying a sulphur limit in the charter party in accordance with the capability of the installed scrubber.
1.2.2. What if there is no contractual sulphur cap in the charter party?
If there is no sulphur cap in the charter party, charterers will be permitted under the terms of the charter party to supply fuel oil with any sulphur content. So it is essential that the charter party fuel oil specification is tied in with the capabilities/warranties of the scrubber system installed. Even if the scrubber can achieve compliance with MARPOL Annex VI when fuel oil with above 3.50% m/m sulphur is used, this may impact on the ship’s speed and performance warranted elsewhere in the charter party.
The output of sulphur emissions from the main engine at full speed needs to match the rated capability of the scrubber, otherwise a reduction in exhaust gas flow (emissions) and thus more power may be required. This needs to be reflected in the charter party.
Bunker clauses should also cover issues such as quality, liability, testing and sampling. This is however neither new nor scrubber specific.