IMO sets 2020 as date for the 0.5% m/m global sulphur cap

By: Jeroen Berger, August 7, 2017

The implementation date for the 0.5% m/m (mass by mass) global sulphur cap is set for 2020, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) decided on 27 October 2016 at its 70th session (MEPC 70). The 2020 implementation date was made dependent on the results of a study done by CE Delft to determine whether sufficient low sulphur fuel would be available in 2020 or 2025. That study shows that under all scenarios and sensitivity options considered, there will be sufficient low sulphur fuel available in 2020.


What are the consequences of the 0.5% m/m worldwide sulphur limit?


The 0.5% m/m global sulphur cap applies to all marine vessels 400 gross tonnage or above. For many ship owners and shipping companies this regulation will have a major impact on their business. In many cases the 0.5% m/m global sulphur cap must result in making sustainable choices. For example, choosing between Marine Gas Oil (MGO), an alternative fuel like Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) with the use of scrubber technology.


Thanks to SECAs low-sulphur fuels are available


The fuel sulphur limit for fuel used in Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs) requires the use of fuels with a maximum sulphur content of 0.1% m/m by 2015. For example, these areas are the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel. Partly as a result of this, there are more low-sulphur fuels available. Good examples include the so-called ‘ECA-fuels’ and the ultra-low sulphur fuel oil (ULFSO). If we are looking to the price, it is very likely that there will be a significant price difference between low-sulphur fuels like MGO and HFO.


Is LNG a good sustainable alternative?


Due to the lack of LNG bunker stations worldwide, LNG is currently applicable in the short sea shipping and inland waterway transport. Thanks to the 0.5% m/m worldwide sulphur limit by 2020, it is very likely that LNG will be applicable in more areas. “LNG has a great potential and will definitely play a key role in the future”, according to Rabobank.


HFO with the use of scrubber technology


As a final option, I will talk about the use of scrubber technology with the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) to meet the 0.5% m/m global sulphur cap by 2020. This is most cost effective solution in the medium-term. Thanks to this option, you can still use HFO and the reliable and traditional ships’ engines.


What will be your clean fuel strategy?


Choosing the right sustainable solution, is not so easy. This depends on many factors. We, at Berger Maritiem, understand that very clearly. Therefore we will be pleased to advice you with choosing the right fuel for your type of ship and operational sailing profile.


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