Safe Bulkers to fit half its fleet with scrubbers

SEPTEMBER 11, 2018 — Safe Bulkers, Inc. (NYSE: SB) is the latest dry bulk carrier operator to announce its plans to meet the 2020 IMO sulfur cap, opting for having about half of its fleet equipped with scrubbers and operating with Heavy Fuel Oil and the other half, consisting mainly of smaller more fuel efficient vessels, operating with compliant low sulfur fuels..

Safe Bulkers has agreed a detailed schedule with Cosco Shipping Heavy Industry Co. Ltd., (Cosco) for the installation during 2019 of Alfa Laval PureSOx scrubbers in five Kamsarmax class vessels, thirteen Post-Panamax class vessels and a recently acquired Cape-size class vessel, while maintaining an option for an additional scrubber.

The scrubber and the related expenditure for prefabrication and installation is expected to be in aggregate of about $2.0 million per medium size vessel. The investment will be financed from cash on hand and additional debt.

Cosco is the biggest group in China in terms of annual turnover for ship repair projects, with five ship repair yards including Guangdong, Shanghai, Nantong, Zhousan and Dalian and has extensive experience in in scrubber and ballast water management system (BWMS) installation projects.

All preparatory engineering works are in progress targeting initiation of the first installation in second quarter of 2019 and the last installation in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Minimization of down time is expected to be achieved through: i) prefabrication of piping and foundation, ii) selection of shipyard with track record in the specific system, iii) installation in group of sister vessels which will permit shorter times after the lead vessel and iv) installation for ten vessels, during their scheduled dry-docking in 2019 as part of their special survey.

Contractually, the expected down time for scrubber installation is 32 days for the first vessel and 30 days for the remaining vessels, while the down time during a scheduled dry docking as part of special survey is about 15 to 20 days.

During the same period ERMA First Ballast Water Treatment System (BWTS) will also be installed (see earlier story).

Safe Bulkers President Loukas Barmparis, commented: "The retrofit of scrubbers is a demanding job involving the selection of reliable and durable equipment from manufacturer with extensive track record, detailed engineering studies and high quality of installation which should lead to reliable operations for years to come. Our technical department has worked extensively in all those areas in order to make possible the timely delivery at the required standards, within the budgeted costs for nineteen vessels with scrubbers within 2019, minimizing the down time. We are happy to cooperate with Cosco and Alfa Laval for this project and we believe that we will enjoy a short pay-back period for this investment based on price differential between HFO and compliant fuels after January 1st, 2020."

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