While media reports suggest that China has banned the use of open-loop scrubbers in its emission control areas (ECA), the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) has said that this is not yet the case.
In recent days, there have been reports that the Ministry of Transport in Beijing has banned open-loop scrubbers from the country’s ECAs, which cover most of China’s territorial waters.
However, BIMCO states that while Chinese regulators updated part of its domestic emission control area (DECA) regulations with effect from January 1, 2019, authorities have not yet placed a full ban on open-loop scrubbers.
Sources familiar with the matter told BIMCO that according to the updated regulation, the banned areas for discharging wastewater from scrubbers remain within inland ECAs, port waters under coastal DECA and the Bohai Bay waters only.
A full ban on open-loop scrubbers could, however, be adopted soon, sources familiar with the matter also told BIMCO.
In November, regulators said ships equipped with scrubbers were permitted to carry and use high sulphur fuel oil (HSFO), subject to emissions monitoring, and that scrubber waste and water must be disposed according to relevant regulation. This remains the case.
In October, there was speculation that China was planning a ban on open-loop scrubbers. Chinese officials confirmed to BIMCO at the time that there were no immediate plans to impose a ban on the technology, as long as they were in compliance with prevailing regulation.
The updated DECA regulation is designed to supplement the previous directives, as well as to provide more detailed guidelines for implementation. More information about the updated DECA regulation can be found on the BIMCO website.
If a full ban does come into force, however, China will join the growing list of ports and authorities that have or will prohibit the use of open-loop scrubbers.
In December, Singapore’s Maritime Port Authority (MPA) became the latest port to ban the discharge of wash water from open-loop scrubbers in its waters, as HLPFI reported here.