News 18 Nov, 2011

MARPOL Annex VI - Reduction of the Fuel Oil Sulphur Limit

Members are reminded that an amendment to MARPOL Annex VI is due to enter into force on 1 January 2012 which will further reduce the emission of sulphur oxides (SOx) and particulate matter. As of that date, vessels operating worldwide will be required to use fuel oil with a sulphur content of not more that 3.5% m/m by weight in accordance with MARPOL Annex VI regulation 14.1.2. When vessels are within Emission Control Areas (ECAs) or jurisdictions where more onerous regulatory requirements are in place, vessels must also comply with the stricter fuel oil sulphur limits as applicable.

MARPOL Annex VI allows vessels to comply with the regulations by using either fuel oil with a sulphur content below the prescribed limit, by utilising a “fitting, material, appliance or apparatus” such as exhaust gas cleaning technology, or by “other procedures, alternative fuel oils or compliance methods” such as onboard blending of fuel oil or the use of dual fuel (gas/liquid). When an alternative means of compliance is used it must be “at least as effective in terms of emission reductions as that required by this Annex”. Any alternative means of compliance with the regulations must be approved by the vessel’s Flag Administration.

Members stemming bunkers in advance of the regulatory change should bear in mind that all fuel oil containing a maximum of 4.5% sulphur must be consumed before the introduction of the new fuel oil sulphur limit. Only fuel oil containing not more than 3.5% sulphur may be consumed from 1 January 2012 onwards.

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