News 23 Sep, 2011

California Air Resources Board Amendments to the Ocean Going Vessels Fuel Rule

As Members are aware, the State of California has in force strict regulatory requirements concerning the type and sulphur content of fuel used by vessels within State waters. These are set out in the “Fuel Sulphur and Other Operational Requirements for Ocean Going Vessels within California Waters and 24 Nautical Miles of the California Baseline” regulation, more commonly referred to as the “Ocean Going Vessels Fuel Rule”. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has recently published Marine Notice 2011-1 advising of amendments to this regulation.

The amendments were endorsed by CARB in June 2011 and, subject to review and approval by the California Office of Administrative Law, may enter into force towards the end of 2011. The Club will issue a further news article in due course once an implementation date has been set. Details of the amendments are summarised below:

  • An expansion of the area affected by the regulations in Southern California to make it consistent with the Contiguous Zone, namely 24 nautical miles from the California baseline and the shoreline of the Channel Islands located off Los Angeles. There is a small area that will be exempt from the requirements in order to encourage vessels to use the established shipping lanes in the Santa Barbara Channel when proceeding to or from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
  • A delay to the implementation of the “Phase II” 0.1% sulphur fuel requirement until 1 January 2014. The regulation currently requires Marine Gas Oil (MGO) and Marine Diesel Oil (MDO) to have 0.1% sulphur or less from 1 January 2012.
  • MGO will be limited to 1% sulphur or less from 1 August 2012 to coincide with the implementation of the North American Emissions Control Area on that date. MDO will remain limited to 0.5% sulphur or less.
  • Minor amendments to the non-compliance fee provision whereby vessels may pay a fee in lieu of direct compliance with the regulation. If a vessel purchases and subsequently uses compliant fuel during a port call and on departure, the fee for not complying with the regulatory requirements will be halved. In addition, if a vessel uses an offshore anchorage in conjunction with a port visit, this will be considered to be a single port call when non-compliance fees are calculated.
  • The definitions for MGO and MDO will be revised to reflect the new International Standard ISO 8217:2010 (specifications of marine fuels). Fuels that meet the older 2005 standard will be permitted as many suppliers are unable to provide fuel meeting the newer standard at present.
  • Alterations to the California Baseline will be made to reflect changes appearing on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration charts that define the position of the baseline. Chartlets showing the amended regulated waters are shown in the Marine Notice.

Members are advised to review the detailed changes to the regulation and to ensure that their vessels comply with the new requirements once they become legally effective.

Members requiring further guidance should contact the Loss Prevention department.