The new lower 0.5% limit on sulfur in ships’ fuel oil will be in force from 1st January, 2020, under IMO’s MARPOL treaty, the organisation has stressed.
This was the message delivered to the Asia Pacific Petroleum Conference (APPEC) this week by IMO’s Edmund Hughes.
The new limit will be applicable worldwide - while in designated emission control areas (ECAs) the limit will remain even lower, at 0.1%.
This was confirmed by IMO in October, 2016, to give certainty to refineries, bunkering and shipping sectors. The forthcoming Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting (MEPC 73) (22nd-26th 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.
MEPC is also expected to adopt a MARPOL amendment aimed at supporting implementation of the 0.5% 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 switch to new blends of fuel oil, which will be produced to meet the 0.5% limit. Currently, the maximum sulfur limit in fuel oil is 3.5% globally and 0.1 % in the four ECAs - the Baltic Sea area; the North Sea area; the North American area (covering designated coastal areas off the US and Canada); and the US Caribbean Sea area (around Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands).
Hughes explained that the sulfur regulation also allows ships to meet the requirement by alternative means, such as scrubbers, which means that the ship can continue to use high sulfur fuel oil, as the scrubber ‘cleans’ the emissions on the ship.