IMO Sulphur Regulation

Ocean freight is by far the most sustainable shipping alternative. However, there are still things we can do to make it even cleaner and greener. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has implemented a new global Sulphur limitation on fuel used on board ships starting 1 January 2020. In this blog post, I share some of the essential facts about the new regulation, how it will affect ship operations and protect marine life.

January 1, 2020 marked the implementation of the new Sulphur oxide limit for shipping fuel imposed by the International Maritime Organization under the MARPOL Convention, often referred to as IMO 2020. IMO 2020 intends to improve global air quality and protect the environment through these measures, but concerns have been raised regarding the increased expenses that the maritime sector will face in order to comply with the new standards. This blog post considers the requirements under IMO 2020, how they will be enforced, and the solutions companies may utilize to ensure compliance.

What is the new sulphur limit on fuel used on board ships?

The new Sulphur limit on fuel used on board ships will be 0.50%. The current limit is 3.50% for ships operating outside designated emission control areas. This means we are going to see a significant global reduction in 2020.

What must shipowners do to meet the new IMO Sulphur regulation?

To comply with the new IMO regulations, there are three options for shipowners:

1) Run on clean liquefied natural gas,

2) Use fuel oil that is low enough in sulphur, or

3) Install exhaust gas cleaning systems, also known as scrubbers. These scrubbers are designed to remove Sulphur oxides from the ships’ engine, generator or boiler exhaust gases. This means the ships can use heavy fuel oil as Sulphur oxide emissions will be reduced to the required limit.

Most ships will likely opt to use fuel oils with lower Sulphur content at first in order to be in compliance with their obligations.

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