Marine Fuels Sulphur (EU) Query

EU Directive 2012/33/EU (effective 17th December 2012) is the implementation within the European Union of mandatory IMO rules on marine fuels, further amending Directive 1999/32/EC as regards the sulphur content of marine fuels.

The key elements of the new directive are:

– In line with Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention, the limits for the sulphur content of marine fuels used in designated SO2 Emission Control Areas (SECAs) will be 1% until 31st December 2014 and 0.1% as from 1st January 2015.

– The IMO standard of 0.5% for sulphur limits outside SECAs will be mandatory in EU waters by 2020. This will also be valid for passenger ships operating outside SECAs to which the current regime of 1.5% applies until that date.

NB: currently a general cap does not allow the use of marine fuels with a sulphur content of more than 3.5% by mass within member states territory, with the exception of fuels used by vessels with alternative exhaust gas cleaning systems operating in closed mode.

In line with the MARPOL Convention the directive provides that Member States shall endeavour to ensure the availability of the required marine fuels.

By 18 June 2014 at the latest, Member States will have to amend their existing legislation on the quality of marine fuels to align it with the new Directive.

From 2015 onwards, Member States are asked to ensure that ships use fuels with a sulphur content of not more than 0.1% in the Baltic Sea and the North Sea including the English Channel. Equivalent compliance methods, such as exhaust cleaning systems, are accepted.

From 2020 onwards, ships operating in all other European Sea areas will have to use fuels with sulphur content of 0.5% or less.

The Association of European Vehicle Logistics has a useful summary of this area.

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