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GARD REMINDS OPERATORS ABOUT ASIA PACIFIC FUEL SULPHUR LIMITS

Thursday, November 8, 2018 

The latest alert from Norwegian insurer Gard points out that while all eyes are on 2020 and the introduction of the IMO’s global sulphur cap, Hong Kong and Taiwan are aligning their emission regulations with the Chinese ECA requirements and will implement a local 0.50% sulphur cap from 1 January 2019.

Meanwhile, says Gard, ship operators, in their preparations for the global sulphur cap, must not overlook the designated areas in which different sulphur limits already apply. Come 1 January 2020, the 0.10% sulphur limit continue to apply inside the North American, US Caribbean, North Sea and Baltic ECAs designated under MARPOL Annex VI, as does the 0.10% sulphur limit for ships at berth in EU ports. China has designated its own domestic ECAs and implemented stringent emission requirements in these areas. Hong Kong and Taiwan have now announced that they will move in a similar direction and will implement a 0.50% sulphur cap one year ahead of the IMO.

Other governments and port authorities may also choose to implement local air pollution regulations that are stricter than the IMO requirements. One example is California and the California Air Resource Board’s enforcement of very stringent environmental regulations in the state’s waters and ports.

Hong Kong’s current Fuel at Berth Regulation requiring ships to burn fuel with a sulphur content not exceeding 0.50% while at berth is soon to be replaced by one that will extend the standard to ships operating in Hong Kong waters. This will mean that from 1 January 2019, ships not fitted with scrubbers will be required to burn fuel with a sulphur content not exceeding 0.50% within Hong Kong waters, irrespective of whether they are sailing or at berth.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Transport and Communication (MOTC) has also announced it will implement a 0.50% sulphur cap one year ahead of the IMO. According to Gard’s local correspondent, there will be no designated domestic ECAs in Taiwan but from 1 January 2019, ships not fitted with scrubbers must burn fuel with a sulphur content not exceeding 0.50% when entering its international commercial port areas.

In September 2015, China designated the Pearl River and Yangtze River Deltas, and Bohai-rim Waters as domestic ECAs and announced a plan for implementing a 0.50% sulphur cap in these areas. 1 January 2019 marks the final step in China’s ECA timeline and from this date ships not fitted with scrubbers must burn fuel with a sulphur content not exceeding 0.50% while operating anywhere within the ECAs. Although some reports have indicated that China may, as of 1 January 2019, expand the geographical coverage of the 0.50% sulphur cap to apply to ships sailing within its entire territorial sea, the Chinese government has not yet issued any formal notice to this effect.

Owners and managers with ships trading to the Asia Pacific should plan for compliance with the local 0.50% sulphur cap that enters into force in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China on 1 January 2019, and ensure that appropriate procedures have been implemented onboard and that the crew is familiar with them.

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