the shipping industry’s move to Low Sulfur Fuel

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In 2016, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) announced that in 2020, sulphur used in marine fuel has to be reduced.

The IMO states that, “This will significantly reduce the amount of sulphur oxide emanating from ships and should have major health and environmental benefits for the world, particularly for populations living close to ports and coasts.”

Many organizations highlight that the problem is lower sulfur content increases the cost of the fuel. Hapag-Lloyd, for example, estimates that 0.5 percent sulfur (or low sulfur fuel) will be 150 to 250 US dollars more expensive per ton than the current 3.5 percent sulfur “heavy fuel oil.”

The shipping industry has some different options to be able to meet the new regulations. They are:

  • Install an Exhaust Gas Cleaning System (EGCS),
  • Switch to Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG),
  • Fit scrubbers to new ships.

There are, however, limitations ship owners face to convert their ships, such as the availablity of time and money. It seems that most of the world’s container fleet will, therefore, have to switch to the expensive sulphur light fuel. Or, the other option is to simply break the law and bear the cost of the fines.


Photo : Flickr

George Thistlethwaite George Thistlethwaite

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