News 11 Jun, 2010

MARPOL Annex VI - Update

Members are reminded that amendments to MARPOL Annex VI for ships operating within a Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) are due to enter into force on 1 July 2010.

As of that date, vessels operating within the two existing SECAs, the Baltic Sea Area and North Sea including the English Channel, must produce no more than 1.0% sulphur oxide (SOx) by mass, a reduction from the present limit of 1.5%. MARPOL Annex VI requires that ships within a SECA comply with the SOx emission limit either by consuming low sulphur fuel or by utilising an exhaust gas cleaning system or any other technological method that has been approved by the vessel’s Administration.

The “2009 Guidelines for the Sampling of Fuel Oil for Determination of Compliance with the Revised MARPOL Annex VI” will also apply as from 1 July 2010. A copy of the Guidelines can be found in Annex 7 of MEPC.182(59).

North American ECA

In March 2010 the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) at the 60th Session of the Marine Environmental Protection Committee adopted an amendment to the MARPOL Convention to establish a North American Emission Control Area (ECA). The new ECA will cover the Pacific, Gulf and Atlantic coasts of North America, extending 200 nautical miles offshore from the United States and Canada. However, it will not affect areas subject to the jurisdiction of adjacent countries. It will also cover the eight main Hawaiian Islands and the French territories off Newfoundland. The IMO expects this amendment to the MARPOL Convention to enter into force on 1 August 2011. However, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) anticipates that the North American ECA will become enforceable in August 2012.

The introduction of the new North American ECA is in addition to the requirements from 1 July 2009 for ocean going vessels visiting ports in California to use low sulphur fuel when sailing within 24 nautical miles of the Californian coast. The existing emission control requirements for vessels calling at ports in California will remain until such time as legislation covering the North American ECA achieves equivalent emission reductions.

Further details regarding the introduction of the North American ECA can be found on the EPA website.