Singapore, China and Fujairah in the UAE have banned the use of the cleaning systems, called open loop scrubbers when the UN's International Maritime Organisation
(IMO) rules come into force.The growing number of destinations imposing stricter regulations than those set by the IMO are expected to be costly. They might have to pay for new equipment and extra types of fuel and adjust their routes.Reuters has learned that individual ports in Finland, Lithuania, Ireland and Russia, have all banned or restricted such equipment, according to interviews with officials and reviews of documents by Reuters. One British port has occasionally imposed restrictions.Norway is also working on open loop scrubber bans around its world heritage fjords, an official with the climate and environment ministry told Reuters. A ban on all types of scrubbers is also proposed, the official added.The IMO rules will prohibit ships from using fuels with sulphur content above 0.5 percent, unless they are equipped with exhaust gas cleaning systems. The open loop scrubber wash out the sulphur and some industry experts believe they are the cheapest way to meet the new global rules.Companies that invested in open loop scrubbers will be unable to use them while sailing through those port waters. They also fear the IMO rules could change again and ban open loop scrubbers altogether.Ships with open loop scrubbers docking or sailing through those ports would need to store waste in tanks until it could be discharged elsewhere or avoid the ports.The other option is to use a scrubber with a "closed loop", which stores the waste until it can be treated on land. There are also hybrid scrubbers with a loop that can be open or closed.Shipowners could also choose another energy source such as low sulphur fuel or liquefied natural gas (LNG). Some experts say there will be enough low sulphur fuel available to avoid fitting scrubbers.Data from Norwegian risk management and certification company DNV GL shows there will be a total of 2,693 ships running with scrubbers by the end of 2019 - based on current orders - and over 80 per cent of them will be open loop devices, compared with 15 per cent using hybrid scrubbers and two per cent opting for closed loop scrubbers.Initial research to date into the environmental impact of open loop scrubbers has produced a range of results. The ports and authorities that have banned them have acted in anticipation of studies that conclusively show the discharge is harmful, environmental groups say.Gothenburg port said it recommended shipowners in their waters not to use open loop scrubbers as a precautionary principle to "avoid discharges of scrubber wash water in coastal waters and port areas".Businesses are waiting to see if the IMO rules will change."What is terrible for business is uncertainty in regulation and changes which are not broadcast well in advance," said Hamish Norton, president of dry bulk shipping group Star Bulk Carriers, among the biggest investors in scrubbers.