How IMO is Working Towards Cleaner Solutions

Did you know that approximately 90% of global trade moves in the near 51,000 ships that conform to the world fleet of ocean cargo carriers? This represents around 2.1 billion barrels of fuel annually and translates to roughly 88.2 gallons a year, or 244 million gallons per day.

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), “the main type of “bunker” oil for ships is heavy fuel oil, derived as a residue from crude oil distillation. Crude oil contains sulphur which, following combustion in the engine, ends up in ship emissions. Sulphur oxides (SOx) are known to be harmful to human health, causing respiratory symptoms and lung disease. In the atmosphere, SOx can lead to acid rain, which can harm crops, forests, and aquatic species, and contributes to the acidification of the oceans.”

To help change this, IMO is working to limit SOx emissions. The goal of this reduction is to see an improvement in air quality and help protect the environment. According to the mandate recently issued by the IMO, starting January 1, 2020, the limit of Sulphur used in fuel oils aboard ships will be reduced to 0.50% m/m (mass by mass). This limit will be implemented upon ships operating outside of any designation emission control areas.

The goal is to help significantly reduce the number of Sulphur oxides that are emanating from these ships around the world. Additionally, it may have major health and environmental benefits, especially for populations living in close proximity to ports and coasts.

Implementing New Emissions Mandates

To better understand the impact of the change, it is important to know that current levels of emission are at 3.50% m/m and need to come down to 0.50% m/m (mass by mass). This represents a substantial cut.

Another, stricter, limit of 0.10% m/m has already been put in effect in emission control areas (ECAS) previously established by the IMO. This lower limit applies in the four established ECAS, which are as follows:

  • The Baltic Sea area
  • The North Sea area
  • The North American area (which covers designated coastal areas off of the US and Canada)
  • The United States Caribbean Sea area (which spans around Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands)

It is worth noting that countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea are also discussing the possibility of designating certain areas as an ECAS.

To help meet this new limit, fuel oil providers are supplying fuel oil that meets the standards, such as marine distillate and ultra-low Sulphur fuel oil blends.

How the New Mandate Will Be Enforced

With these important new changes coming into effect in 2020, it is important to note who will be enforcing these mandates and ensuring the vessel operators and owners comply with IMO 2020.

The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL, for short) will be the main international convention in charge of overseeing the prevention of pollution by ships (either operation or accidental) across all marine environments. Any government agencies or national authorities that are a part of MARPOL will also be handed the responsibility of ensuring liable parties are compliant with IMO 2020.

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According to IMO, they will also be working closely with Member States as well as the shipping, bunker supply, and refining industries to help identify and mitigate and transitional issues that may arise as ships work to meet the new requirement. They will work to devise standard formats for reporting fuel non-availability, developing guidelines, and overseeing verification and control issues.

There will also be an impact on ocean rates, considering the cost of low emission fuel is often higher, so companies should take into consideration how this may affect their shipping practices.

Understanding What This Means For You

If you regularly ship goods overseas or utilize global fleets to receive products from other industries or companies around the world, you may be wondering how the new IMO 2020 mandate will affect you. Turning to a licensed US Customs Broker at Promptus can help you understand how these new changes may affect you and what you can do to ensure you are compliant, if necessary. We offer knowledgeable advice and assistance for clients who need freight forwarding and ocean shipping servicescall today for a quote.