News 18 Sep, 2015

Australia - Fuel Oil Sulphur Limit for Cruise Ships in Sydney

The Government of New South Wales (NSW) has recently passed the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Amendment (Cruise Ships) Regulation 2015 which requires the use of low sulphur fuel oil by cruise ships visiting Sydney.

The new regulation requires a cruise ship, defined as being a “passenger ship not having a cargo deck, designed exclusively for commercial transportation of over 100 passengers in overnight accommodation on a sea voyage” to use fuel oil with a sulphur content of 0.10% or less in all main engines, auxiliary engines, generators and auxiliary boilers:

  • While berthed as from 1 October 2015 onwards
  • Within Sydney Harbour as from 1 July 2016 onwards

For the purposes of the regulation a “berth” is considered to be “a place at which a vessel is secured or anchored while in a port”. The “berthing period” during which low sulphur fuel oil must be used commences one hour after the vessel is made fast or brought up to her anchor, and concludes one hour prior to letting go the mooring lines or when the anchor is aweigh.

Cruise ships using Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) or Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) are not required to comply with the low sulphur fuel oil requirements provided the NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is notified in advance. Cruise ships using alternative methods of emissions reduction, including exhaust gas scrubbers, which give at least an equivalent reduction in emissions as would be achieved by using low sulphur fuel oil, must obtain prior approval from the NSW EPA in order to qualify.

In some cases the NSW EPA may exempt certain vessels from the new regulations on a temporary basis. For example, a cruise ship may not be required to use low sulphur fuel oil within Sydney Harbour as from 1 July 2016 if the vessel requires modifications which can only be carried out in dry dock, and if the next scheduled dry docking period will be completed after 1 July 2016.

If a cruise ship is unable to comply with the regulatory requirements, the legislation includes a number of permitted defences. These include situations where a cruise vessel with no compliant fuel oil on board makes an unscheduled emergency call at Sydney, or if a cruise vessel’s departure is delayed due to circumstances beyond the reasonable control of the Master resulting in all compliant fuel oil being consumed.

Non-compliance with the legislation is an offence, and where proved may give rise to the imposition of financial penalties.

The foregoing is a brief summary of some of the principal points of the new regulation. Full details, including information on the documentary requirements and obligations placed on fuel oil suppliers providing low sulphur fuel oil to cruise ships in Sydney Harbour can be found in the Protection of the Environment Operations (Clean Air) Amendment (Cruise Ships) Regulation 2015.

The NSW EPA intends to publish an information brochure addressing the new requirements as well as various application forms prior to 1 October 2015.

Members requiring further guidance are advised to contact the Loss Prevention department.