SOx Scrubbers payback

Have scrubbers been proved cost effective for Suezmax and Aframax tankers?


Good question. Big debate.

A rule of thumb is “the larger the vessel, the shorter is the break even period of the SOx scrubber installation”.
The two main factors that affect the break even period are: the daily fuel oil consumption and the price difference (the spread) between the VLSFO and the HFO.

However, it is hard to give a straightforward answer to this question, due to the many variables:

  • Location of scrubber installation (Singapore, Europe, A.G, China)
  • Type of scrubber (U-type, in-line type). The installation cost of a U-type scrubber is double compared to that of an in-line scrubber)
  • Off-hire period. Has the installation taken place during a “soaring” or a during “quiet” market?

Thus, the break-even period might not be as short as predicted during the initial stages of the investment but it will eventually occur at some point and then there will be profit, as long as the price of the HFO remains lower than that of the VSLFO.
So, if you ask me, then yes, as long as price of HFO remains lower than that of the VSLFO (probably this cannot be reversed easily) then i believe that a SOx scrubber will at some point become a cost effective solution for every vessel.