Page No. 14-40: Regulatory Regime governing Maritime Air Pollution and Legal Compliance alternatives in era of Sulphur capping 2020

Vivek Jain, Iris Jiyeon Kim


In the last few decades, MARPOL has significantly contributed in preventing and minimising pollution from ships due to both operational and accidental issues. In the era of increasing sea-borne trade and worldwide awareness of global warming, the need for combating air emissions at sea has gathered pace. MARPOL Annex VI that entered into force on 19 May 2005 seeks to limit the air pollutants from the exhaust gases that are emitted from the merchant's vessels. MARPOL Annex VI has been amended over the years, in particular: a) pursuant to MEPC 63 adopted in March 2012, it mandates four sets mandatory regulations on Energy Efficiency for Ships in MARPOL Annex VI, and b) pursuant to MEPC 70 in October 2016; the fuel oil standard (0.50% sulphur limit) shall become effective on 1 January 2020. This complying fuel oil is available at a higher price in the market. At this stage, there is underlying uncertainty about the availability, as well, of such fuel notwithstanding at a higher price at most of the bunkering ports. This uncertainty has a potential to increase even further in light of increasing demand for such fuel due to regulatory constraints. However, MARPOL Annex VI, Chapter 1, Regulation 4 has provided ship owners and operators with an alternative path to the above-stated compliance by using exhaust gas cleaning systems also known as a SOx scrubber. There are equally important other alternatives to achieve compliance, for example, by changing the fuel composition through fuel blending, by improving and enhancing engines by replacing the fuel to LNG. At the same time, in many cases, such alternatives are not easy to implement due to various reasons.


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