September 10 - Rickmers-Linie has declared its support for the introduction of stricter sulphur regulations but expects that they will inevitably lead to an increase in the cost of marine fuels.

"While shipping is already the most environmentally friendly mode of transport, the new regulations help to further reduce the impact on the environment and our health," said Ulrich Ulrichs, chief executive officer of Rickmers-Linie.

"But low sulphur fuels are more expensive and growing demand is widely expected to further increase the costs of these fuels," he added.

The new regulations come into effect on January 1, 2015 in the emission control areas (ECAs) in the USA and Canada, as well as the North Sea, English Channel and Baltic Sea. The maximum content of sulphur allowed in marine fuels used in the ECAs will be 0.1 percent, compared with today's 1 percent.

Outside the ECAs, sulphur content in marine fuels will need to be reduced from the current 3.5 percent to 0.5 percent by 2020. This deadline may be postponed until 2025, pending a review by the IMO in 2018.

"Rickmers-Linie fully supports the introduction of the new regulations," said Ulrichs. "Using these fuels during navigation in the ECAs, the content of sulphur and hazardous sulphur dioxides in the exhausts of our vessels will be reduced considerably.

"However, the new regulations will inevitably mean an increase in bunker costs. So we are in the process of implementing a low sulphur fuel surcharge for quotations valid for shipments arriving to or departing from an ECA on or after January 1, 2015."

Ulrichs emphasised that the effectiveness of the new regulations is tied to powerful enforcement to ensure an industry level playing field and prevent a weakening of the positive effect on the environment.

Rickmers-Linie added that it will inform customers of the exact level of the surcharge once calculations have been finalised.