A DEAL has been struck to make the Port of Portland one of the UK’s centres for fitting ships with ‘scrubber’ anti-pollution devices.

Ship repair and engineering services company Intermarine UK reached an agreement with a Chinese manufacturer to install its devices into vessels at the port.

Intermarine signed a deal to act as agent for the Chinese company Shandong, installing its technology to help vessels meet new environmental regulations.

Roll-on/roll-off ferries, roll-on/roll-off passenger ferries, tankers, car carriers and fishing vessels are among those that will be fitted with the systems.

Intermarine says scrubbers, or exhaust gas cleaning systems, are among the hottest topics in the global marine industry as a result of new sulphur emission regulations which are coming into effect at the start of next year under the Marpol Treaty.

Intermarine president Slawomir Kalicki signed an agreement at the Nor Shipping Trade fair in Oslo with his counterpart DB Wang, deputy general manager of Shandong Pure Ocean Technology, based in Renhe Town in China’s Shandong province.

Mr Kalicki said Intermarine’s base at Portland Port is ideally located to service ships requiring scrubbers operating on the English Channel and Trans-Atlantic shipping routes.

He said: “We see a big demand for scrubbers now the deadline is fast approaching.

“Working with Shandong we can offer ship owners and operators a first-class scrubber system and we can help ensure the system is approved by the ship’s Flag Administration and the approval is properly evidenced in the ship’s IAPP Certificate (International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate). “Shandong's scrubbers are state of art products and critically they have a very fast installation time saving up to 25 days on the average scrubber installation. Another big advantage is Portland Port's ability to offer sheltered harbour for a wide variety of large ships, with multiple deep-water berths and low tidal ranges.”

Mr Kalicki said while some of the global merchant fleet of 95,000 ships are expected to opt for compliant fuel, particularly the cheaper blends, to meet the legislation, this option carried high risks.

“The risk of off-specification fuel, the potential for engine failure and port state penalties, not to mention supply and price constraint make scrubbers an attractive alternative,” he said.

“Scrubber installation offers the safest, most cost-effective way to meet the new targets in the medium and long term. Scrubber pay-back is estimated at one to three years depending on ship size, according to classification society DNV GL’s 2018 report Global Sulphur Cap 2020. Working with Shangdong we aim to position Intermarine’s Portland Port operation as one of the UK’s prime locations for scrubber installation.”

Polish-owned Intermarine UK moved its head office from Bridgend to Portland in 2018, providing engineering and fabrication to UK ships’ repair, refit, conversion and shipbuilding markets. It is diversifying into other industries, including the energy sector and renewables.