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Emission Control Areas

Emissions mapFollowing agreement at IMO and incorporation into European law, the Baltic Sea became the first fully implemented SOx Emission Control Area in August 2006. One year later, in August 2007 the North Sea and English Channel became the second SECA. 
 
When the revised MARPOL Annex VI entered into force in July 2010 it included a change to the name and definition of an emission control area from SECA to ECA – an area where special mandatory measures are required to control NOx, or SOx and particulate matter (PM), or all three types of emissions from ships.
 
A phased reduction of SOx emissions in ECAs was also initiated. The allowable amount of fuel sulphur was reduced to from 1.5% to 1.0% in July 2010 and is to be further lowered to 0.1% in January 2015.  Outside of ECAs, the current global limit of 4.5% sulphur-in-fuel will be reduced to 3.5% in 2012, then 0.5% in 2020 or 2025 depending on a review in 2018 to determine the availability of fuel to enable implementation of this standard.

Sulphur timeline

Above: schedule for reduction of fuel sulphur content

In March 2010 IMO’s Marine Environmental Protection Committee adopted a proposal from the USA and Canada for an ECA extending 200 nautical miles from both east and west coasts and around the islands of Hawaii.

The ECA is not only for SOx emissions, but also particulate matter and NOx. It will become fully implemented on or after August 2012.  In September 2010 another US proposal for an ECA around Puerto Rico and the US Virgin islands was discussed at IMO and seems set to enter into force in 2014.
 
Further ECAs seem likely to be proposed for Norway, and Japan and possibly for the Mediterranean. 


Regional and national controls
 
In addition to the North Sea and Baltic ECAs, European regulation requires, with some exceptions, ships in an EU member state port, at berth or at anchor to use 0.1% sulphur fuel. Currently passenger vessels must also use a 1.5% sulphur fuel during regular service between member state ports and in EU waters.
 
In the USA the California Air Resources Board require distillate fuel to be used in all main and auxiliary engines and boilers within 24 nautical miles of the Californian coast unless the vessel is on continuous and expeditious navigation. If a vessel is calling at a California port facility or anchorage or entering an internal water such as an estuary the following fuels must be used:

  • Until January 2012 marine gas oil (MGO), with a maximum of 1.5 percent sulphur, or marine diesel oil (MDO), with a maximum of 0.5 percent sulphur
  • After January 2012 marine gas oil (MGO), or marine diesel oil (MDO), with a maximum of 0.1 percent sulphur

Ensuring compliance
 
To comply with the plethora and complexity of this regulation ship operators must use fuel in main and auxiliary engines and boilers with a sulphur content that is within the limits set down by the regulators. Alternatively the exhaust gas after combustion can be treated to remove the sulphur oxides or a combination of low sulphur fuel and after-treatment can be used on a ship.
 
The penalties for non-compliance are potentially very large and it is vital the correct fuels are bunkered. If fuel grades need to be switched this must be confirmed and recorded as complete before entering an area where emissions are regulated. If Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems are used then the emissions reduction down to a very low level must be guaranteed.

Showing compliance is not an onerous process but is an additional workload on the crew. Have good records of fuel usage and location OR measure the exhaust gasses leaving the funnel. Parker Kittiwake have solutions to help in both instances (see also Kittiwake Procal Exhaust Gas measuring equipment at www.procal.com).

 

Off-line Bunker Fuel

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