Regional sulphur limits vary
The European Union Sulphur Directive stipulates a maximum of 0.10% sulphur content for ships in EU ports. In certain EU countries, the Water Framework Directive constrains the discharge of scrubber water. Belgium and Germany have prohibited the discharge of scrubber water in many areas, constraining the operation of open-loop scrubbers. Other EU countries may follow suit, with no common EU practice likely to be agreed.
China has announced that as of 1 January 2019, it is expanding the geographical coverage of its 0.50% sulphur areas to a 12-nautical-mile zone covering the entire Chinese coast line. In addition, discharging wastewater from scrubbers is banned within inland Emission Control Areas (ECAs), port waters and the Bohai Bay waters. A full ban on open-loop scrubbers from the country’s ECA could be also adopted in future.
California’s Air Resources Board (ARB) enforces a 0.10% sulphur limit within 24 nautical miles of the California coast. The regulation does not allow any other compliance options than low-sulphur marine gas or diesel oil (DMA or DMB). A temporary research exemption may be granted, allowing the use of a scrubber. The application must be sent before entering California waters. After a formal review of the regulation, California legislators have decided to retain it as an addition to the ECA requirements. Both sets of regulations must be complied with when calling at port in California.
There is a general global trend of stricter local air pollution regulations coming into play. In addition to the areas discussed above, this is exemplified by emission regulations – both established and forthcoming – in places such as the Panama Canal, Taipei and local municipalities around the world.