Photo: 35793162 © Jordi Clave Garsot |

Share of ships with scrubbers seen rising despite the 24% fall in fittings in 2022. Only in 2022 scrubbers were installed on 399 ships.

Bimco says the percentage of ships with scrubbers is set to increase in the coming years as 17% of the dry bulk, container, and tanker ships in the shipyards’ order books are expected to have scrubbers installed. However, those 17% only amount to 24% of the deadweight capacity in the order book, and the scrubber deadweight percentage could therefore decrease.

The international shipping association Bimco calculates that 13% of bulkers, tankers and container ships have a scrubber installed.

“Scrubbers were installed on 399 ships in 2022, a fall of 24% y/y, and currently 13% of bulker, container, and tanker ships have a scrubber installed,” in accordance with the analysis of Niels Rasmussen from Bimco, adding that in the long term, the use of scrubbers to cut sulphur emissions may reduce, as decarbonisation efforts will increase the use of alternative fuels that are sulphur compliant.

Furthermore, ships since 1 January 2020 have had to use ultra or low sulphur fuel (eg ULSFO or VLSFO) to comply with limits for sulphur emissions.

However, in accordance with the analysis, they can use the less expensive heavy fuel oil (HFO) if they install a scrubber, but the price premium for very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) has turned out to be less than initially estimated.

“The higher the VLSFO premium, the more attractive the investment in a scrubber is because the payback period is shorter. The lower-than-expected VLSFO premium has likely discouraged owners from installing scrubbers, particularly on smaller ships with lower bunker consumption and lower savings as a result,” as Bimco´s expert mentions.

The average dry bulk, container, and tanker ship with a scrubber has a deadweight capacity of 140,845 tonnes, whereas those without have an average of 51,743 deadweight tonnes. Therefore, the 13% of the dry bulk, container, and tanker ships with scrubbers represents 29% of the deadweight capacity. The crude tanker fleet has the highest installation rate with 32% of the ships, and 38% of the deadweight capacity having scrubbers installed.