July 20, 2013 Articles

In October 2008 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted a set of amendments
to Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention which, among other things, strengthened the
requirements on the permitted sulphur levels in ships‟ fuels. The amendments provide for a
progressive reduction of the sulphur content of marine fuels as follows: from 1 January 2012
the global sulphur cap will be reduced, first to 3.50% (from the current 4.50%) and then,
subject to a feasibility review to be completed no later than 2018, progressively to 0.50 % from
1 January 2020 (or in 2025 at the latest). In „Sulphur Emission Control Areas‟ (SECAs),
requirements are more stringent.1 As from 1 July 2010, the maximum sulphur limit has been
reduced to 1.00%, (from 1.50%), while from 1 January 2015, the limit will be further reduced
to 0.10%.

It is mainly this last requirement, the 0.10% limit within SECAs, which has caused concern
within the EU to date. A series of studies have recently been performed by various
organizations to assess the implications of the new sulphur in fuel standards for the shipping
industry and other stakeholders in general and for short sea shipping in particular. The focus on
the 0.1% requirement within SECAs is explained by the fact that the only existing SECAs are
located within the EU and that short sea shipping accounts for an important share in the
transport logistic chain of the countries bordering these areas. It should be noted, though, that
existing EU law (Directive 2005/33/EC) already requires ships, with certain exceptions, whilst in
EU ports to use fuel with maximum 0.1 % while at berth if they do not use shore-side
electricity. This requirement has been in force since 1 January 2010.

PDF Download: EMSA Technical Report 2010

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