Maritime
Global Sulphur Cap 2020

The bunker fuel supply and availability landscape will change when the IMO’s regulation capping the global fuel sulphur limit at 0.50% is enforced from 1 January 2020. While the technological solutions are many, decisions are hard to take.

Following an availability review of compliant low-sulphur fuel oil in 2020, the IMO has decided that the global fuel sulphur limit of 0.50% will enter into force in 2020. This requirement is in addition to the 0.10% sulphur limit in the North American, US Caribbean, North Sea and Baltic Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs). Vessels that have exhaust gas cleaning systems installed will be allowed to continue using high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO).

Global Sulphur Cap Regulatory overview
Regulatory overview

New amendments ban high sulphur fuels without using scrubbers

A significant amendment to the regulation is the agreement on a carriage ban for HSFO as of 1 March 2020, except for ships equipped with scrubbers. While it will still be permitted to carry HSFO as a cargo, it will not be permitted to have HSFO in fuel tanks unless scrubbers are being used. This is intended to enable port state control (PSC) to detain ships carrying non-compliant fuel without having to determine if it has been used or not, and is expected to significantly discourage non-compliance when in international waters. Certain ports have banned the use of open-loop scrubbers within their areas.

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.

GUIDANCE PACKAGE: Global Sulphur Cap 2020

Download our guidance documents including scrubbers, fuel switch options, checklists and more

WEBINAR: Global Sulphur Cap 2020 - be prepared for compliance (May 2019)

Watch the webinar recording and download the slide deck

Technical and Regulatory News No. 09/2019

2020 Sulphur update - outcome of the MEPC 74

Technical and Regulatory News No. 26/2018

Update on emissions to air regulations for ships operating in Chinese coastal waters

Joint Industry Guidance on the supply and use of 0.50% - sulphur marine fuel

Download the 64-page paper at cimac.com

Alternative fuels and technologies

Topic page including emission categories, prices, availability and services

Alternative Fuels Insights platform

Explore the open platform for evaluating the uptake of alternative fuels and technologies

Video: 2020 sulphur update – MEPC 74 expert review

Watch our video about the 2020 sulphur update

IMO resolutions and circulars on sulphur

MEPC.305(73)

PROHIBITION ON THE CARRIAGE OF NON-COMPLIANT FUEL OIL FOR COMBUSTION PURPOSES FOR PROPULSION OR OPERATION ON BOARD A SHIP

MEPC.320(74) 2019

2019 GUIDELINES FOR CONSISTENT IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 0.50% SULPHUR LIMIT UNDER MARPOL ANNEX VI

MEPC.321(74) 2019

2019 GUIDELINES FOR PORT STATE CONTROL UNDER MARPOL ANNEX VI CHAPTER 3

MSC.465(101)

RECOMMENDED INTERIM MEASURES TO ENHANCE THE SAFETY OF SHIPS RELATING TO THE USE OF OIL FUEL

MEPC.1-Circ.795-Rev.4

MEPC.1-CIRC.795-REV.4 UNIFIED INTERPRETATIONS TO MARPOL ANNEX VI.

MEPC.1-Circ.864-Rev.1 2019

2019 GUIDELINES FOR ON BOARD SAMPLING FOR THE VERIFICATION OF THE SULPHUR CONTENT OF THE FUEL OIL USED ON BOARD SHIPS

MEPC.1-Circ.875

GUIDANCE ON BEST PRACTICE FOR FUEL OIL PURCHASERS/USERS FOR ASSURING THE QUALITY OF FUEL OIL USED ON BOARD SHIPS

MEPC.1-Circ.875-Add.1

GUIDANCE ON BEST PRACTICE FOR FUEL OIL SUPPLIERS FOR ASSURING THE QUALITY OF FUEL OIL DELIVERED TO SHIPS

MEPC.1-Circ.878

GUIDANCE ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF A SHIP IMPLEMENTATION PLAN FOR THE CONSISTENT IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 0.50% SULPHUR LIMIT UNDER MARPOL ANNEX VI

MEPC.1-Circ.880

REPORTING OF AVAILABILITY OF COMPLIANT FUEL OILS IN ACCORDANCE WITH REGULATION 18.1 OF MARPOL ANNEX VI

MEPC.1-Circ.881

GUIDANCE FOR PORT STATE CONTROL ON CONTINGENCY MEASURES FOR ADDRESSING NON-COMPLIANT FUEL OIL

MEPC.1-Circ.884

GUIDANCE FOR BEST PRACTICE FOR MEMBER STATE/COASTAL STATE

MEPC.1-Circ.883

GUIDANCE ON INDICATION OF ONGOING COMPLIANCE IN THE CASE OF THE FAILURE OF A SINGLE MONITORING INSTRUMENT, AND RECOMMENDED ACTIONS TO TAKE IF THE EGCS FAILS TO MEET THE PROVISIONS OF THE 2015 EGCS GUIDELINES (MEPC.259(68)