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Hong Kong to join mainland China’s fuel emissions plan

National scheme for control areas excluded special administrative region, but local government looks to opt in from 2019

Ships plying the Pearl River Delta, including Hong Kong waters, will have to use cleaner fuel as a part of one of three new national emissions control areas, beginning 2019, the Post has learned.

This follows calls by experts and industry insiders to extend the city’s mandatory fuel switch-at-berth regulation one step further to cover its waters, falling in line with new mainland measures.

The mainland’s Ministry of Transport drew up three emissions control areas – the Pearl River Delta, Yangtze River Delta and the Bohai Economic Rim – in December.

Under that plan, all marine vessels will have to switch to low sulphur fuel while in Chinese waters, regardless of whether they are berthed, unlike Hong Kong’s current law, which is limited to berthed ships. The emissions control areas (ECAs) are pencilled to take effect in January 2019.

The ministry’s edict excludes Hong Kong and Macau from the ECA, but a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department last night confirmed Hong Kong would be part of it.

“Hong Kong … will collaborate with the relevant mainland authorities to put the ECA in place,” a spokesman told the Post.

Simon Ng Ka-wing, chief research officer at public policy think tank Civic Exchange welcomed the move, as the discrepancy between Hong Kong and the mainland means ships entering Hong Kong can burn cheaper and dirtier fuel until they berth.

“If the cost difference is big enough, ships will switch back to burning a cheaper fuel for the one to two hours until they get to a berth in Hong Kong,” said Ng.

But he questioned how and if the city would comply with emissions targets set by the ministry under “one country, two systems”.

Hong Kong’s fuel-switch law, which came into effect exactly one year ago today, requires ocean-going vessels calling at the city to switch to fuels with less than 0.5 per cent sulphur at berth. About a tenth of all port calls were already doing so voluntarily -before in came into effect.

Similar measures will go in place in Shenzhen this year.

Ng suggested Hong Kong consider pushing the bar further for the region by requiring a stricter fuel target of 0.1 per cent sulphur – a standard that emissions control areas in the US and Europe have.

Arthur Bowring, managing director of the Shipowners Association, supported tighter fuel standards. He said: “It makes no sense for ships to have to change to a distillate fuel when entering Chinese waters, be able to switch back to dirtier fuel when in Hong Kong waters, and then to switch back to distillate after passing through Hong Kong.

“Hong Kong needs to have its legislation ready so that it is able to bring it into force when the requirement enters into force in [the Pearl River Delta].”

Bowring backed a tighter 0.1 per cent fuel requirement but hoped the supply of those fuels at Asian ports would improve. The department said tightening the standard was “impracticable” due the lack of regional availability.

Since the 1990s shipping, along with power generation, has been the largest contributor of toxic sulphur dioxide emissions in Hong Kong.

The department said data showed sulphur concentrations in Kwai Chung, Tsuen Wan and Sham Shui Po were “30 to 50 per cent lower” in the last 11 months than they were in the preceding period.
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Source URL: http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/health-environment/article/1983720/hong-kong-join-mainland-chinas-fuel-emissions-plan

Hong Kong eyes shipping boost from China’s new silk road, Iran

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-shipping-hongkong-idUSKCN0YW1OI

Hong Kong’s crucial shipping trade is hoping China’s overseas infrastructure plan and closer business ties with Iran will enable the city to tackle the downturn in the seaborne sector and tougher competition, officials said.

The global container sector, which transports everything from bananas to iPhones, as well as the dry bulk shipping market hauling commodities including iron ore and coal, is struggling with a glut of ships, a faltering global economy and weaker consumer demand – pressuring freight companies as well as ports that handle the volumes.

Hong Kong, one of the world’s biggest container ports, expects to benefit from China’s new silk road initiative aimed at developing trade and transport links across Asia and beyond.

“You have a lot of building materials that will need to be transported. That will have demand for shipping,” said Jenny Koo with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC).

“For Hong Kong, our priority markets will be Asia and the Middle East,” she told Reuters during Greece’s Posidonia shipping week in Athens.

The plan to build land, sea and air routes also known as the “One Belt, One Road” was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 with the aim of boosting trade by $2.5 trillion in the next decade. As China’s economic growth slows, Beijing is encouraging its companies to win new markets overseas.

“There are a lot of new projects especially in the context that there is the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative being pushed out,” David Cheng, of the Hong Kong Maritime and Port Board, said separately.

“We have a very strong shipping cluster and we have to attract more people in the industry to make Hong Kong as one of their operating bases.”

Hong Kong handled over 20 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent container units) last year.

The HKTDC’s Koo said global container throughput via Hong Kong was estimated to grow this year by 4.1 percent and intra-Asia trade by 4.4 percent.

Trading and logistics account for 23 percent of Hong Kong’s gross domestic product and the city is targeting more shipping trade with Middle Eastern countries including Iran after international sanctions on Tehran were lifted earlier this year.

Hong Kong officials said freight activity with Iran was expected to include multiple areas such as food products and consumer goods.

“A lot of people have been dealing with Iran through third parties,” said Stephen Wong of the HKTDC. “Now that sanctions are taken away, Hong Kong will benefit … I’m sure that the trade will grow.”

Fuelling a low-emission target

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The world’s largest cruise ship and its supersized pollution problem

As Harmony of the Seas sets sail from Southampton docks on Sunday she will leave behind a trail of pollution – a toxic problem that is growing as the cruise industry and its ships get ever bigger

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/21/the-worlds-largest-cruise-ship-and-its-supersized-pollution-problem

At full power the Harmony of the Seas’ two 16-cylinder engines would each burn 1,377 US gallons an hour of some of the most polluting diesel fuel in the world. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

At full power the Harmony of the Seas’ two 16-cylinder engines would each burn 1,377 US gallons an hour of some of the most polluting diesel fuel in the world. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

This article is the subject of a legal complaint made on behalf of Royal Caribbean International

When the gargantuan Harmony of the Seas slips out of Southampton docks on Sunday afternoon on its first commercial voyage, the 16-deck-high floating city will switch off its auxiliary engines, fire up its three giant diesels and head to the open sea.

But while the 6,780 passengers and 2,100 crew on the largest cruise ship in the world wave goodbye to England, many people left behind in Southampton say they will be glad to see it go. They complain that air pollution from such nautical behemoths is getting worse every year as cruising becomes the fastest growing sector of the mass tourism industry and as ships get bigger and bigger.

The Harmony, owned by Royal Caribbean, has two four-storey high 16-cylinder Wärtsilä engines which would, at full power, each burn 1,377 US gallons of fuel an hour, or about 66,000 gallons a day of some of the most polluting diesel fuel in the world.

In port, and close to US and some European coasts, the Harmony must burn low sulphur fuel or use abatement technologies. But, says Colin MacQueen, who lives around 400 yards from the docks and is a member of new environment group Southampton Clean Air, the fumes from cruise liners and bulk cargo ships are “definitely” contributing to Southampton’s highly polluted air.

“We can smell, see and taste it. These ships are like blocks of flats. Sometimes there are five or more in the docks at the same time. The wind blows their pollution directly into the city and as far we can tell, there is no monitoring of their pollution. We are pushing for them to use shore power but they have resisted.”

“The liners pollute, but the road traffic that they and the cargo ships generate is also huge,” he adds.

Royal Caribbean, the US owners of the Harmony of the Seas, said that the latest and most efficient pollution control systems were used and that the ship met all legal requirements.

Industry body Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) added that companies had “invested significantly over the last decade to develop new technologies to help reduce air emissions”.

But marine pollution analysts in Germany and Brussels said that such a large ship would probably burn at least 150 tonnes of fuel a day, and emit more sulphur than several million cars, more NO2 gas than all the traffic passing through a medium-sized town and more particulate emissions than thousands of London buses.

According to leading independent German pollution analyst Axel Friedrich, a single large cruise ship will emit over five tonnes of NOX emissions, and 450kg of ultra fine particles a day.

Bill Hemmings, marine expert at Brussels-based Transport and Environment group said: “These ships burn as much fuel as whole towns. They use a lot more power than container ships and even when they burn low sulphur fuel, it’s 100 times worse than road diesel.”

“Air pollution from international shipping accounts for around 50,000 premature deaths per year in Europe alone, at an annual cost to society of more than €58bn [ $65bn],” says the group on its website.

emmission-cruise-ship

Daniel Rieger, a transport officer at German environment group Nabu, said: “Cruise companies create a picture of being a bright, clean and environmentally friendly tourism sector. But the opposite is true. One cruise ship emits as many air pollutants as five million cars going the same distance because these ships use heavy fuel that on land would have to be disposed of as hazardous waste.”

Nabu has measured pollution in large German ports and found high concentrations of pollutants. “Heavy fuel oil can contain 3,500 times more sulphur than diesel that is used for land traffic vehicles. Ships do not have exhaust abatement technologies like particulate filters that are standard on passenger cars and lorries,” says Rieger.

Southampton, which has Britain’s second largest container port and is Europe’s busiest cruise terminal, is one of nine UK cities cited by the World Health Organisation as breaching air quality guidelines even though it has little manufacturing.

“Up to five large liners a day can be berthed in the docks at the same time, all running engines 24/7, said Chris Hinds, vice chair of the Southampton docks watchdog group WDCF. “Pollution from the port is leading to asthma and chest diseases. We are now seeing more, bigger liners but also very large bulk cargo ships.”

According to CLIA, the cruise ship industry is now one of the fastest growing sectors in the mass tourism market, with 24 million passengers expected to sail in 2016, compared to 15 million in 2006 and just 1.4 million in 1980.

“The industry shows no signs of slowing down. It generated $119.9bn (£83bn) in total output worldwide in 2015, supporting 939,232 full-time equivalent jobs,” said a spokesman.

“The luxury sector is seeing the most amazing growth that it has ever seen in its history,” said Larry Pimentel, president of Azamara club cruises.

• This article was amended on 23 May 2016. An earlier version said the Harmony of the Seas had three 16-cylinder engines which, if running at full power, would burn 96,000 US gallons of fuel a day. It has two such engines which together would burn about 66,000 US gallons of fuel a day if running at full power, and is understood to have four 12 cylinder engines. The article also said the ship must burn low-sulphur fuel in port and close to some coasts; it can also use abatement technologies to meet emissions guidelines.

Massive cruise liners ‘each spew out as much sulphurous emissions gas per day as 376 MILLION cars’

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Vietnam PM Gives Green Light to Ship Pollution Plan

http://shipandbunker.com/news/apac/396489-vietnam-pm-gives-green-light-to-ship-pollution-plan

Vietnam’s ​​​Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has approved a national plan aimed at controlling the environmental impacts of shipping through the enhancement of environmental inspections at the country’s ports, as well as an increase in officials and civil servants’ capacities in the state’s maritime management agencies, local media reports.

With the goal of fully implementing regulations outlined in the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO’s) MARPOL Annexes III, IV, V and VI of the L, the plan will see relevant agencies conduct a review, beginning this year 2016 and running until 2020, of legal documents regarding the prevention of pollution linked to shipping, as well as the appropriate management of discharge from maritime activities.

Further, the plan will facilitate regular vessel inspections that align with regulations contained in Annexes III, IV, V and VI – a process that is said to be intended to fulfill the country’s responsibility in relation to ships registered out of Vietnam – and will work to enhance Vietnamese officials’ capacity in dealing with maritime accidents.

The plan also expresses the intention to increase Vietnam’s cooperation with relevant international organisations and other countries within the region, improving information exchange, technical assistance, personnel training, and technology transfer relating to the implementation of the IMO regulations.

Until 2030, a study will be conducted under the plan to examine viable investment mechanisms and policies for waste collection systems to be used at sea ports, as well as effective and regulation compliant equipment to monitor sewage and garbage discharged by ships.

In March, an inauguration ceremony was held for Vietnam’s international seaport at Cam Ranh Bay, marking the completion of its first phase of construction as part of a national push to transform the port into one of the country’s top deep water ports, and a regional hub for maritime service, including bunkering.

Surprise! The Air Near Major Ports Is Bad for Kids

http://www.newsweek.com/surprise-air-near-major-ports-bad-kids-460773

Air pollution is an insidious thing. The particulate matter that streams out of tailpipes and power plants contains an extensive list of contaminants—everything from carcinogens to endocrine-disrupting compounds—in addition to the tiny specks of soot we’ve come to associate with the higher rates of asthma and other respiratory disorders seen in populations that live near major highways or industrial facilities. Basically, every part of it is bad for you, and researchers just found two more toxins to add to the list: nickel and vanadium.

According to as-yet-unpublished research that is being presented Tuesday at the American Thoracic Society’s 2016 international conference, the nickel and vanadium found in the exceptionally fine-grained class of air pollution called PM2.5 damages children’s developing lungs. And in Southern California, where the research was conducted, these toxins mainly appear in the air pollution that comes from shipping vessels.

Because their diameter is so small (2.5 microns, or 1/120th the width of a strand of human hair), PM2.5 particles are known to make their way down into the farthest reaches of the lungs and even slip into the bloodstream. Previous research has shown that when a woman is exposed to PM2.5 in pregnancy, the particles can reach her fetus, whose lungs may grow fewer alveoli, the grape-like clusters in which air is taken and oxygen is separated and diffused to the blood. Her baby, then, may be born with diminished lung capacity, or a greater proclivity toward asthma. (Also, because evidence suggests that lungs continue to develop until we’re about 25 years old, air pollution may work to stunt alveoli development the entire time.)

For this latest research, Robert Urman, a researcher from the University of Southern California, and his co-authors assessed health records from 1,911 elementary school children from various communities in Southern California. Among them, the highest levels of nickel and vanadium in the air were found in Long Beach, California, where cargo chips and other vessels burn fuel oil while leaving and entering the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, which combined is the largest seaport in the United States.

“When we analyzed the data, we found that teenaged children in the most polluted communities had an estimated decrease of approximately four percent in their lung function compared to similar children in the least polluted communities,” Urman said in a statement.

A large-scale study last year found that when air pollution is reduced, children’s lung function improves significantly in the surrounding community. “The National Ambient Air Quality Standards currently regulate PM2.5 mass as a whole,” Urman says, but he adds that more research is needed to understand what components of air pollution are particularly bad for children’s lungs, so risk assessments and regulations can be tailored to target them. “If we could establish a link between these components and health-related outcomes, then more targeted regulations could be enacted to better protect the health of the general population.”

Using nanostructured filters to reduce shipping pollution

http://phys.org/news/2016-05-nanostructured-filters-shipping-pollution.html

Cargo ships are among the leading sources of pollution on the planet. Starting in 2020, however, stricter sulfur emission standards will take effect. A low-cost solution for reaching the new targets may come from an EPFL start-up, which is developing a nanostructured filter for use in a ship’s exhaust stacks.

Around 55,000 cargo ships ply the oceans every day, powered by a fuel that is dirtier than diesel. And owing to lax standards, maritime transport has emerged as one of the leading emitters – alongside air transport – of nitrogen oxide and sulfur. But the International Maritime Organization has enacted tighter emission limits, with new standards set to take effect in 2020. In response, an EPFL start-up is developing a low-cost and eco-friendly solution: a filter that can be installed in the ships’ exhaust stacks. The start-up, Daphne Technology, could do well on this massive market.

Lowering sulfur emissions to below 1%

Under laboratory conditions, the nanostructured filter is able to cut sulfur emissions to below 1% and nitrogen oxide emissions to 15% of the current standards. This is a major improvement, seeing as the new standards will require an approximately 14% reduction in sulfur emissions.

Manufacturing the filters is similar to manufacturing solar cells. A thin metal plate – titanium in this case – is nanostructured in order to increase its surface area, and a number of substances are deposited in extremely thin layers. The plates are then placed vertically and evenly spaced, creating channels through which the toxic gases travel. The gases are captured by the nanostructured surfaces. This approach is considered eco-friendly because the substances in the filter are designed to be recycled. And the exhaust gas itself becomes inert and could be used in a variety of products, such as fertilizer.

The main challenges now are to figure out a way to make these filters on large surfaces, and to bring down the cost. It was at EPFL’s Swiss Plasma Center that researcher Mario Michan found a machine that he could modify to meet his needs: it uses plasma to deposit thin layers of substances. The next step is to produce a prototype that can be tested under real-world conditions.

The idea to solve the problem of toxic gas emissions came to the researcher after working on merchant freighters while completing his Masters in microtechnology. It took several years, some techniques he picked up in the various labs in which he worked, and a few patents for Michan to make headway on his project. It was while he was working in another field at CERN and observing the technologies used to coat the inside of particle accelerators that he discovered a process needed for his original concept. An EPFL patent tying together the various aspects of the technology and several manufacturing secrets should be filed this year.

According to the European Environment Agency, merchant ships give off 204 times more sulfur than the billion cars on the roads worldwide. Michan estimates that his nanostructured filters, if they were used by all cargo ships, would reduce these emissions to around twice the level given off by all cars, and the ships would not need to switch to another fuel. Other solutions exist, but his market research showed that they were all lacking in some way: “Marine diesel fuel is cleaner but much more expensive and would drive up fuel costs by 50% according to ship owners. And the other technologies that have been proposed cannot be used on boats or they only cut down on sulfur emissions without addressing the problem of nitrogen oxide.”

 

Watch cargo ships sail Earth’s oceans: Hypnotic interactive map follows the route of giant vessels over a year

  • Red shows huge tankers, blue represents dry bulk ships, and yellow shows ships carrying manufactured products
  • Different filters can be added to the interactive map to show port names, vessel routes and different ship types
  • Researchers want the map to shed light on how large a carbon footprint is created by the world’s cargo ships

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3562440/Watch-cargo-ships-sail-Earth-s-oceans-Hypnotic-interactive-map-follows-route-giant-vessels-year.html

From the buzz of activity in the East China Sea to the relative quiet of Somalia’s piracy afflicted waters, a new map has revealed the world’s shipping activity in mesmerising detail.

The interactive map provides a fascinating glimpse into hows these shipping vessels navigate through vast oceans as they bring their valuable cargoes to port – but it also serves a more serious purpose.

Researchers want the map to shed light on just how large a carbon footprint is created by the world’s cargo ships. It is estimated that a single large container ship can emit pollutants equivalent to that of 50 million cars.

The issue we were following was the levels of greenhouse gas emissions from cargo ships and their pollution impact,’ Tristan Smith, a reader at University College London’s Energy Institute, told Motherboard.

The data points show the movements of the world’s commercial shipping fleet over the course of 2012. It also shows their fuel consumption every hour.

Shipmap’s website says that ‘billions of tonnes of ships and cargo rely on burning massive quantities of bunker fuel’.

This results in the release of huge amounts of carbon dioxide, which is the main driver of global warming.

Emissions from international shipping for that year were estimated to be 796 million tonnes CO2 which is more than the whole of the UK, Canada or Brazil emit in a year.

That’s 2.18 million tonnes CO2 per day or 90,868 tonnes CO2 per hour.

To create the map, researchers at UCL Energy Institute and Kiln estimated emissions from five different ship types and plotted 250 million data points.

The data is based on hundreds of millions of individually recorded ship positions; plotting all of these at once shows the extraordinary extent of modern shipping’s reach

From the buzz of activity in the East China Sea to the relative quiet of Somalia's piracy afflicted waters, a new map has revealed the world's shipping activity. Pictured are the shipping routes for various cargo ships around the world in 2012. Red represents huge tankers, blue shows dry bulk ships, yellow show ships that carry manufactured products,  Green gas bulk and purple shows ships carrying vehicles

From the buzz of activity in the East China Sea to the relative quiet of Somalia’s piracy afflicted waters, a new map has revealed the world’s shipping activity. Pictured are the shipping routes for various cargo ships around the world in 2012. Red represents huge tankers, blue shows dry bulk ships, yellow show ships that carry manufactured products, Green gas bulk and purple shows ships carrying vehicles

It was pulled from exactEarth, a company that provides location-based information on maritime traffic, and the Clarksons Research UK World Fleet Register, which registers the world’s fleet

Based only on ship movements and without a background map, the world’s coastlines are clearly defined, with plenty of variation in ship activity, including in areas you might not expect them, such as the Arctic and Antarctic.

The map clearly shows the most crucial shipping thoroughfares of all: the canals linking different bodies of water, such as the Panama Canal, which opened a century ago to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean.

It also shows the even older and busier Suez Canal which saw 17,000 transits in 2012 alone.

To observe the flows of the global economy in more detail, users can distinguish between five different ship types.

The red dots represent huge tankers, the blue dots show dry bulk ships that move cargo like ores, and the yellow dots show ships that carry manufactured products.

The interactive map provides a fascinating glimpse into hows these shipping vessels navigate through vast oceans as they bring their valuable cargoes to port. The shipping routes around the US are shown here. New Orleans, Houston and Large Angeles appear to be the hub for huge tankers

The interactive map provides a fascinating glimpse into hows these shipping vessels navigate through vast oceans as they bring their valuable cargoes to port. The shipping routes around the US are shown here. New Orleans, Houston and Large Angeles appear to be the hub for huge tankers

The dots represent the cargo vessels approximate locations around the world on 23 February 2012. Shipmap's website says that 'billions of tonnes of ships and cargo rely on burning massive quantities of bunker fuel'. This results in the release of huge amounts of carbon dioxide, which is the main driver of global warming

The dots represent the cargo vessels approximate locations around the world on 23 February 2012. Shipmap’s website says that ‘billions of tonnes of ships and cargo rely on burning massive quantities of bunker fuel’. This results in the release of huge amounts of carbon dioxide, which is the main driver of global warming

The map clearly shows the most crucial shipping thoroughfares of all: the canals linking different bodies of water, such as the Panama Canal, which opened a century ago to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean

The map clearly shows the most crucial shipping thoroughfares of all: the canals linking different bodies of water, such as the Panama Canal, which opened a century ago to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean

Green shows gas bulk and purple shows ships carrying vehicles.

It clearly shows the movements of tankers which ship oil from massive terminals in the Middle East or from offshore rigs in West Africa and elsewhere.

It also shows dry bulk carriers moving aggregates, ores and coal from mines and quarries, many of which are found in Australia and Latin America.

Many of these raw materials are shipped to manufacturing regions to make finished goods which are themselves moved back across the ocean in container ships.

UCL-Energy researchers estimated that the map shows roughly 50,000 cargo ships, some of which are over quarter of a mile long.

The next step, they say, is to update their map based on newer data.

To create the map, researchers at UCL Energy Institute estimated emissions from five different ship types and plotted 250 million data points. The data is based on hundreds of millions of individually recorded ship positions; plotting all of these at once shows the extraordinary extent of modern shipping's reach. Shown here is shipping movement across the Indian ocean

To create the map, researchers at UCL Energy Institute estimated emissions from five different ship types and plotted 250 million data points. The data is based on hundreds of millions of individually recorded ship positions; plotting all of these at once shows the extraordinary extent of modern shipping’s reach. Shown here is shipping movement across the Indian ocean

Shown here are the major European pots with the red dots representing huge tankers. The map clearly shows the movements of tankers which ship oil from massive terminals in the Middle East or from offshore rigs in West Africa and elsewhere.

Shown here are the major European pots with the red dots representing huge tankers. The map clearly shows the movements of tankers which ship oil from massive terminals in the Middle East or from offshore rigs in West Africa and elsewhere.

Big benefits of cleaner marine fuel

Air quality in coastal areas improved significantly in 2015 after stricter sulphur limits for marine fuels were introduced in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.

In several countries bordering the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, concentrations of sulphur dioxide (SO₂) have come down by 50 per cent or more in 2015 compared to previous years, according to a recent study by the Dutch research consultancy CE Delft conducted on behalf of the German environmental group NABU (Nature and
Biodiversity Conservation Union).

The study has investigated the experiences of the first year of applying stricter marine fuel sulphur standards in the Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA) covering the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. It focussed on air quality, socio-economic effects, impacts on business, and on compliance and enforcement.

As from 1 January 2015 the maximum sulphur content of marine fuels used in SECAs was reduced by 90 per cent, from 1.0 to 0.1 per cent. The resulting health benefits of better air quality were estimated to amount to between €4.4 and 8 billion.

This can be compared to the cost to the maritime sector of moving to low-sulphur marine gas oil (MGO) in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, which was estimated at €2.3 billion.

The researchers conclude that the health benefits of lower emissions of SO₂ and particulate matter (PM) were between 1.9 and 3.5 times higher than the increase in fuel costs, which means that the benefits of introducing the new regulations clearly outweighed the cost.

Before its implementation, there were industry concerns that the stricter fuel standard would significantly increase fuel costs and that there would be problems with the availability of low sulphur fuels. There were also concerns about impacts on the industry, such as closures of companies or services, and potential shifts towards road transport. The lack of effective surveillance schemes to ensure compliance and enforcement were also subject to debate.

The study found that the availability of MGO has proven to be sufficient and that the price of MGO actually decreased – the latter mainly as the result of reduced oil prices in general. However, the MGO price decreased more sharply than the price of heavy fuel oil (HFO) and automotive diesel. In fact, by the end of 2015, the price of 0.1 per cent sulphur MGO was at the same level as the price of high-sulphur HFO was at in the beginning of 2015.

No significant shifts towards road transport were found for RoRo transport, which is regarded as the market segment that is most sensitive to a modal shift.

Moreover, no company or service closures, nor any decrease in cargo turnover in Northern European ports, was found that could be clearly linked to the introduction of the stricter sulphur standard.

Interestingly, some shipping companies reported a financial record year for the year 2015 and established new services.

According to data for 2015 from the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), between three and nine per cent of the ships were non-compliant in the Baltic Sea and North Sea, respectively. It should be noted that countries typically use a margin of up to 20 per cent above the legal threshold during control in ports for reporting deficiencies and 50 per cent for applying sanctions.

It is believed that the rate of noncompliance on the open seas might be significantly higher, but the limited data available does not allow any firm conclusions.

More and better data are needed in order to estimate the actual compliance rate on the open seas. In addition, fuel sampling needs to be intensified in 2016 in order to meet the required 30–40 fuel samples per 100 administrative inspections, as required by EU legislation.

It is recommended that there should be further development of monitoring and control techniques, including control on the open seas, to improve the effectiveness of the inspection regime. The authors also recommend that countries apply sanctions that are proportionate to the economic benefits of non-compliance.

Christer Ågren

Sources: CE Delft press release and Ends Europe Daily, 20 April 2016

The study: “SECA Assessment: Impacts of 2015 SECA marine fuel sulphur limits” (April 2016).

By CE Delft, the Netherlands. Downloadable at: http://www.cedelft.eu/publicatie/seca_assessment%3A_impacts_of_2015_seca_marine_fuel_sulphur_limits/1780