Sulphur rules on ship fuels widely ignored

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Source: Transport and Environment (T&E)

Stricter rules on the sulphur content of marine fuels are not being widely observed. That is the conclusion of a report from the shipping insurers’ publication ‘Lloyds List’ which suggests stricter rules brought in last summer are not yet bringing about cleaner seas.

Up to 1 July 2010, ships using specially designated Emissions Control Areas (Secas) had to use fuels with a sulphur content no higher than 1.5%. Since then, the limit is 1%, but this has caused a massive increase in the number of ships failing to respect the limits.

Ship inspections conducted by the Dutch water management inspectorate have revealed that 29 of the 63 ships inspected since July 2010 (46%) were over the 1% limit, compared with five out of 72 (7%) inspected in the first half of last year which were over the then 1.5% limit. In 10 of these cases, the port state took control of the ship, according to the inspectorate.

Separate research carried out in the first three months of this year found 21% of inspections revealed breaches of the standards set out in the International Maritime Organisation’s Marpol Annex VI, 18% of them linked to the 1% sulphur limit. The testing agency’s technical manager was quoted as saying it was highly unlikely that issues relating to low-sulphur fuels would disappear soon.

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