The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has agreed to move forward with a ban on the carriage of fuel oil for use on board ships, when that fuel oil is not compliant with pending sulphur limits.
The 0.5 percent limit on sulphur in fuel oil on board ships (outside designated emission control areas or ECAs, where the limit is 0.1 percent) will come into effect on January 1, 2020.
The aim of the new limit is to reduce sulphur oxide (SOx) emissions from ships to improve air quality and protect the environment.
To help ensure consistent implementation of this regulation, IMO's sub-committee on pollution prevention and response (PPR) agreed draft amendments to the MARPOL Convention on the prevention of pollution from ships (MARPOL Annex VI). It prohibits the carriage of non-compliant fuel oil that exceeds the 0.5 percent sulphur limit.
In January 2018, a coalition of environmental organisations and international shipping associations had called for the prohibition, saying that such a ban will help ensure robust, simplified and consistent enforcement of the global sulphur cap, as HLPFI reported here.
The exception would be for ships fitted with an approved equivalent arrangement to meet the sulphur limit - such as an exhaust gas cleaning system (EGCS) or so-called scrubber.