Over the last two years, one of the hottest topics in the shipping industry has been the push to use scrubbers to meet the IMO’s global sulphur mandate without breaking the bank.

To date, mostly bigger ships — such as post-panamax containerships, VLCCs, and capesize bulkers — are opting for exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCSs) as they consume more fuel than their smaller counterparts.

Since mid-2020, the container sector has become the most scrubber-fitted, surpassing the crude tanker sector. Further, scrubber-fitted containerships are making the most out of the oil spread premium, leading to massive earnings as the spot market hits all-time highs.

While the retrofitted container fleet reaps the benefits of EGCS in this unprecedented season of prosperity, other boxships slated to be retrofitted this year are postponing or even calling off these projects altogether in a bid to preserve as much operational capacity as possible.

When it comes to installing scrubbers, cost savings are essential — which is why installations need to be completed as quickly as possible. According to Clarksons Research, containership retrofits took an average of 68 days in 2020, compared to 46 days for bulkers and 41 days for crude tankers.

The challenges of 2021

While many scrubber suppliers have struggled to stay afloat in 2021, Global Echo — a South Korean scrubber maker which launched its MS-SOx Scrubber in 2018 — says it has received a myriad of inquiries from shipowners in recent months thanks to its shortest installation period in the industry: 14 days at most.

I’ve inspected scrubber systems from assorted makers since they started to emerge in 2018. When beginning a project with Global Echo, I honestly doubted the installation could be done in two weeks. I was also bit worried about its performance because of its small size. But after two weeks, all my doubts turned into certainty. Global Echo’s scrubber system is more than a product. Until now, I still haven’t seen any comparable companies in the market. It’s the Rolls Royce of the scrubber industry

DNV surveyor

The company proudly announced its recently signed projects for a VLCC and three containerships — a 6,500-teu vessel and two 1,800-teu — scheduled to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2021 and early 2022. Global Echo says the additional signings for several tankers and containerships will be sealed within the next four weeks.

“Global Echo only needs 14 days for the installation,” explains Minsu Seo, the founder of Global Echo. “We take charge of everything, including arranging the shipyard and sub-contracting the labour, so that we can complete the project in the shortest installation time. That’s what the owners need.”

According to Seo, the lead time for the entire scrubber system is only 3.5 months, which includes the installation period. In addition to its shortest lead time, Global Echo is known for its compact titanium scrubber tower and simple piping system, which doesn’t affect the cargo volumes of retrofitted tonnage.

“Unlike other competitors, we offer turnkey contracts for shipowners, which eliminates their need to arrange additional engineering companies or shipyards to complete the installation process,” Seo adds. “This enables us to deliver the best quality with the shortest lead time.”

The best is yet to come

On top of expanding its market share this year, the company is keen on developing carbon-free technology by launching an “all-in-one” scrubber for SOx, NOx, and PM.

“Our best is yet to come,” Seo concludes. “Scrubbers are evolving, and we’re preparing for the future with greener technology.”

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Looking ahead, Global Echo is planning to expand its suite of green solutions with the addition of a cutting-edge ballast water management system that mechanically slices microorganisms and features chemical dosing, which eliminates the need for a neutralisation process — which, according to the company, is a common source of malfunctions in current systems on the market.

Whether you’re actively shopping for an EGCS — or waiting for the freight market to cool — Global Echo is equipped to provide guidance. The fastest way to get in touch is by contacting SJ Lee via email or connecting with him on LinkedIn.