The regulations were brought into force in 2005 and ship owners have until January 2015 to ensure they comply.
“Time is running out for businesses and private owners affected by Annex VI of the Marpol regulations. Focusing on air pollution, this section of the regulations covers the minimisation of harmful sulphur oxide (SOx) and Nitros oxide (NOx) gases,” explained Glyn Humphries from UK-based environmental services responder for ports and harbours, Adler and Allan.
To reduce sulphur oxide, from January 2015, any fuel used onboard ships and sea-based platforms in the Baltic and North Sea ECA should not exceed sulphur levels 0.10%.
“Currently, the three year average sulphur content in fuel oils stand at 2.46%, meaning many vessels, that haven’t done so already, will need to take steps to improve fuel quality,” added Mr Glyn.
Fuel affected include heavy fuel oils (HFO), marine diesel oils and gas oils. The regulations also prohibit the deliberate emissions of ozone-depleting substances, such as those which could occur through burning HFOs.
“Ship owners much make sure they choose fuel suppliers which guarantee product that meets the stipulated low sulphur content; gas oil is likely to be the new fuel of choice. Before new fuels are used, however, their containment tanks and fuel systems must be properly cleaned to prevent the risk of contamination. In addition, qualifying vessels must keep a list of equipment containing ozone depleting substances on board and take steps to limit Nitros Oxide (NOx) levels,” concluded Mr Glyn.
To help ship owners prepare, Adler and Allan drains and fully cleans vessel tanks ready for changeover to cleaner fuels.