Ship fuel sulphur rules widely ignored

Stricter rules on the sulphur content of marine fuels are not being widely observed, according to reports from the shipping insurers' publication Lloyds List.

Up to 1 July 2010, ships plying the designated Sulphur Emissions Control Areas (SECAs) had to use fuels with a sulphur content lower than 1.5%. After that date, the limit was lowered to 1.0%, but this appears to have 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 (46%) inspected since July 2010 were over the 1.0% limit, compared with five out of 72 (7%) inspected in the first half of 2010, which were over the then 1.5% limit. Separate research carried out in the first three months of this year found 21% of inspections revealed breaches of the standards, most of them linked to the 1.0% sulphur limit.

Possible action taken by Dutch authorities against ships that violate the sulphur limits include detention, nonconformity notices against the vessel under the ISM Code and financial penalties of up to 700,000 euro.

Source: Transport & Environment, 23 May 2011

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