The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) will not delay its implementation of the lower limits of sulphur in ships' fuel oil.
Speaking at the Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference (APPEC) held last week in Singapore, Dr Edmund Hughes, the head of air pollution and energy of the IMO’s marine environment division said that the new lower 0.50% limit on sulphur will be in force from 1 January 2020, under IMO’s International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) treaty, with benefits for the environment and human health.
The new limit will be applicable globally – with even lower limits of 0.10% in designated emission control areas (ECAS).
The 1 January 2020 implementation date was set by IMO in October 2016. Since then. IMO has been working with member states and the maritime industry to support implementation of the new limit.
The upcoming IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 73) (22-26 October) is expected to approve ship implementation planning guidance as well as best practice guides for member states/coastal states and for fuel oil suppliers.
The MEPC is also expected to adopt a complementary MARPOL amendment aimed at supporting implementation of the 1 January 2020 0.50% limit. This amendment will prohibit the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil - unless the ship has an exhaust gas cleaning system (‘scrubber’) fitted.
Most ships are expected to utilise new blends of fuel oil which will be produced to meet the 0.50% limit on sulphur in fuel oil. Currently, the maximum sulphur limit in fuel oil is 3.50% globally (and 0.10 % in the four ECAS: the Baltic Sea area; the North Sea area; the North American area (covering designated coastal areas off the United States and Canada); and the United States Caribbean Sea area (around Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands).
The sulphur regulation also allows for ships to meet the requirement by alternative means, such as scrubbers, which allows the ship to continue using high sulphur fuel oil as the scrubber “cleans” the emission on the ship.