Sulfur Emissions Abatement in the International Shipping Industry
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In response to the recent amendments to Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973 (a.k.a. “MARPOL 73/78”), the international shipping industry is currently meeting sulfur emission caps by blending and burning higher priced distillate fuels. In the short-term, while emission caps are relatively high (e.g., easy to attain compliance), it is easier and arguably cheaper to opt for distillates. However, as those sulfur caps fall in the coming years, in accordance with the schedule put forth by the International Maritime Organization, more marine distillate will be needed to meet regulations. Despite its inherent environmental and health benefits, said demand will have adverse effects on global supply and in turn price of transportation fuels. Nonetheless, technologies currently exist in the marketplace that remove the sulfur from the vessel’s exhaust gas stream post-combustion and allow for the use of lower grade and lower priced residual fuels (instead of high priced distillates). This masters’ project highlights the current sulfur abatement technologies in the market, specifically exhaust gas cleaning systems or “scrubbers”, and how ship owners and operators can meet sulfur regulations economically. It makes a case for said scrubbers and looks deeper into the levers of financial feasibility of these devices, both presently and in the future. Additionally, it addresses some of the possible effects of a wholesale transition to distillates by the marine shipping industry and its adverse effects on the global marketplace.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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