MPC Container Ships puts scrubbers on feeder vessels

MPC’s AS Laetitia. Credit: Vladimir Trofimov
MPC’s AS Laetitia. Credit: Vladimir Trofimov

Oslo-listed shipowner MPC Container Ships has announced a major scrubber retrofit scheme for its feeder ship fleet.

It has placed firm orders for five units from an unnamed supplier for installation before the global 0.5% sulphur cap on marine fuels is implemented on 1 January 2020. Additionally, the company has confirmed it has secured options to purchase up to 50 more scrubbers, also for installations during 2019 or in early 2020.

Optional retrofits would be evaluated on a vessel-by-vessel basis, it said. IHS Markit has contacted MPC Container Ships for more information on the investment volume, supplier’s identity, the vessels to be retrofitted, and the respective trades, but received no response.

The company was launched by Hamburg-based asset manager MPC Capital about one and a half years ago and has since bought about 70 smaller container ships from affiliated entities and other owners.

In a statement, MPC Container Ships stated that there is significant interest from charterers in the container sector for scrubber-fitted tonnage and that it is in “well-advanced negotiations for mid- to longer-term charter parties at favourable rates that are expected to yield attractive returns”.

Its retrofit programme is notable for the fact that it is geared towards feeder-class vessels. Paris-based analyst Alphaliner has identified almost 300 container vessels, including newbuilding projects worldwide that are going to be scrubber-fitted, but most of them are larger gearless vessels.

MPC Container Ships’ chief executive officer, Constantin Baack, explained that the group’s research on the subject showed that retrofits of exhaust gas cleaning systems presented an “economically attractive alternative of complying with the 2020 sulphur regulations”. Also, the scrubber purchase options for the lion’s share of its fleet gave it “strategic flexibility to adapt to new market conditions”.