From Jan. 1, 2020, less than one month from now, vessels around the world will be subject to IMO 2020, a new environmental regulation that lowers the limit for sulfur content of ship fuel oil from 3.5 percent to 0.5 percent.
Shipping companies have three options to lower sulfur content in vessel fuel. They can either use low-sulfur crude oil or replace their vessels with LNG-fueled ships. The third method is to equip ships with scrubbers, a desulfurization device.
POSCO’s steel mill in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province, is operating a production line for S31254 steel, a high-alloy stainless steel used for producing scrubbers for ships. Pohang Works is the only producer of high-alloy stainless steel for scrubbers in Korea. The Steel Solution Research Institute in Incheon developed the product and Pohang Works has been producing 6,000 tons of it annually since March.
Pohang Works set up a task force team consisting of about 50 employees to prepare for mass-production of S31254 steel, one of the most powerful and expensive high-alloy stainless steel products. It took six months to mass-produce the product. S31254 steel is sent to scrubber manufacturers after undergoing eight to nine processes.
Pohang Works supplies S31254 steel to five domestic customers including Hyundai Heavy Industries. It accounts for 20 percent to 30 percent of the domestic market. Its share of the global market is in the 10 percent range.