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Suez Canal Authority clears up confusion on open-loop scrubbers

Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has announced that it will allow ships to burn heavy fuel oil (HFO) when transitioning the waterway and will not be required to use scrubbers when doing so.

This goes against the IMO’s January 1, 2020 regulation that prohibits vessels from burning fuel with more than 0.5 per cent sulphur content.

The SCA has also said that the discharge of water from open-loop scrubbers will be prohibited. In its latest circular, the SCA states the following:

“In consideration of using fuel oil with low Sulphur content in accordance with MARPOL Annex VI during transit from Suez Canal, you are kindly advised that Suez Canal Authority puts no conditions or restrictions on fuel oil or Open-loop Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems until ratification of MARPOL Annex VI by Arab Republic of Egypt.

This is also in consistence with the obligation that wash water resulting from exhaust gas cleaning systems shall not be discharged into water during vessels transit of Suez Canal.”

This means that ships are permitted to burn HFO in the Suez Canal and surrounding waters. Vessels operating with open-loop scrubbers can continue use them while in Egyptian waters but will be required to turn them off when navigating the Canal, resulting in the release of pollutants into the atmosphere rather than the waters.