Legal issues arising from new bunker sulphur regulations in MARPOL
The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) confirmed in July 2018 that the new global sulphur limit for marine fuel of 0.50% m/m will apply from 1 January 2020.
Further, amendments to MARPOL Annex VI which prohibit vessels from carrying fuel oil with a sulphur content of more than 0.50% m/m have been approved by the IMO. Such measures will come into force on 1 March 2020, after which only vessels which are equipped with Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (i.e. scrubbers), will be exempt from this prohibition.
In this Circular the following information on the new sulphur regulations is being presented:
(Download the whole circular or click on the links below to find the different sections in the pdf.)
- The legal framework, the MARPOL Annex VI rules on sulphur emissions (also below)
- Compliance and enforcement (fines)
- Practical and legal issues going through different cases (no 1-4 looking at the case with or without scrubbers):
2. Cost of Bunkers
3. Quality of Bunkers / Removal of Non-Compliant Fuel
4. Bunkers on Redelivery / Definition of Bunkers
5. Switching Fuels
6. Performance Warranties
7. Scrubbers – costs involved
- Going forward and Conclusion (variations between ports)
The technical challenges facing owners are discussed elsewhere; but the new rules also have legal implications, both in terms of compliance, and in relation to the terms of their charterparties, which need to be considered.
Rules regarding sulphur emissions
MARPOL Annex VI contains rules limiting the main air pollutants contained in ships’ exhaust gas. Regulation 14 governs Sulphur Oxide (SOx) emissions, and the sulphur content permitted in fuel oil used on board ships has been progressively reduced in stages, as follows:
|SOx limit outside ECAs||SOx limit inside ECAs|
|< 4.50% m/m prior to 1 January 2012||< 1.50% m/m prior to 1 July 2010|
|< 3.50% m/m on and after 1 January 2012||< 1.00% m/m on and after 1 July 2010|
|< 0.50% m/m on and after 2020||< 0.10% on and after 1 January 2015|