DNV has issued a compliance certificate for the first ship fitted with an exhaust gas cleaning system capable of meeting the requirements of SOx Emission Control Areas (ECA). The certification demonstrates that ship operators may in the future have the option of using traditional fuel oils, rather than low-sulfur fuels, when voyaging in designated sensitive areas such as the North Sea, according to DNV.

The pilot SOx scrubbing system was fitted to the exhaust pipe of an auxiliary engine on the product tanker Suula, owned by Neste Oil Shipping of Finland. DNV approved the system on behalf of the Finnish Maritime Administration after overseeing the installation and successful operation of the new technology. The two-year project was a collaboration between Wärtsilä, Neste Oil Shipping, DNV, Aker Yard and Metso Power.

“Despite its environmental advantages, low sulfur fuel is not always readily available and can cost more than other fuel oils, so the technological advances made on the Suula are a welcome addition to the anti-pollution toolbox available to the shipping industry,” said DNV project leader, Angelo Tossio, in a press release.

Exhaust gas scrubbing is an accepted supplement to the use of low sulfur fuels under the International Maritime Organization’s air pollution regulations (MARPOL Annex VI). These regulations call for the use of fuel with a sulfur content not exceeding 1.5 percent in designated areas. After 1 July 2010 the sulfur limit will be 1.0 percent in ECAs.

The control of SOx emissions is becoming increasingly important and MARPOL Annex VI guidelines call for a progressive reduction in SOx emissions globally.