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4,000 ships to be equipped with scrubber systems
The enforcement of the global sulphur cap on 1 January 2020 has resulted in a major shift in the bunker fuel market. The majority of vessels are using compliant low-sulphur fuels, while a small, but growing, share of the fleet has opted for LNG. An alternative option is the use of scrubbers, which allow for continued use of low-cost high-sulphur fuel oil. Until the spring of 2018, only about 400 vessels had installed scrubbers, mainly operating in Emissions Control Areas. From the summer of 2018 until September 2019, orders accelerated quickly, with more than 3,000 vessels, corresponding to approximately 15% of global marine fuel consumption, selecting this option. Since then, the number of new orders has grown somewhat more slowly, with approximately 4,000 ships (operational and on order) recorded with scrubbers in March 2020. Although price spread between HSFO and 0.50% VLSFO has narrowed significantly and quicker than many expected, some stakeholders are anticipating an accelerated uptake of scrubbers again as the payback for larger ships in particular should still be attractive. It remains to be seen, however, if scrubbers will prove to be the compliance option of choice for more ship owners than today, and how future regulation will impact the scrubber market.

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