This article was published in the Times of Malta on 25 June 2019.

Palumbo Malta Shipyard has won a contract to refit three vessels of French shipping company Corsica Linea with a fuel cleaning system that meets new environmental shipping rules. The company beat off competition from shipyards in Italy and France.

The contract comes on the back of another €6 million international contract to refit three Ro-Ro passenger ferries with the Greek Shipping company Minoan Lines.

Palumbo Group president Antonio Palumbo said: “This is a contract that is nearly double the one with Minoan Lines and we’re honoured to have been chosen by Corsica Linea who are choosing to divert from their trade route to have the job done in Malta — this is a clear vote of confidence in our work.”

The Cottonera-based shipyard is investing in green technology and expertise that enable it to remain agile and proactive in a volatile industry, while helping vessels meet the UN’s International Maritime Organisation 2020 targets. The IMO is lowering the maximum allowable sulphur content in bunker fuel to 0.5 per cent from 3.5 per cent, starting from next year, as a step towards controlling emissions and achieving cleaner air.

For shipping companies running on heavy fuel oils, the options to meet the new, tighter limits are to either switch to low-sulphur fuel or refit the vessels with scrubbers — systems that clean exhaust gases.

The IMO regulations have opened up a new niche for the yard as ship owners and operators turn to retrofitting to comply with the sulphur limit, and Palumbo Malta Shipyards is investing is looking to exploit this opportunity.

Work on retrofitting Corsica Linea’s three ships — the MV Pascal Paoli, MV Jean Nicoli and MV Paglia Orba — are expected to start towards the end of this year.

The scrubbers work by showering seawater, which in turn converts emissions from gaseous to a more manageable aqueous state. The systems being installed by Palumbo Malta Shipyards meet and exceed the IMO limits for both gas emissions and wash quality.

The shipyard is focusing on a quick turnaround of the job and each of these massive vessels can be refitted within 30 days.

Palumbo general manager Joseph Calleja said: “Projects such as these put us and Malta on the map… We are constantly working to be ahead of the game and our next focus will be on investing to service the next generation of LNG-fuelled vessels to the highest standard.”