Shipowners “need to be aware” of sulphur fines, says UK P&I Club

UK P&I Club has expressed concern over the increasing number of states forming new sulphur regulations, and the availability of low-sulphur fuels.

“The move towards using cleaner fuels supports a global drive to reducing carbon emissions, with many countries forming new or reforming old regulations,” said Club loss prevention Director, Stuart Edmonston.

“Hong Kong and Australia are the latest to introduce their own bespoke requirements. In Hong Kong, all ocean-going vessels (above 500 gt) are required to switch to low-sulphur fuel (or LNG/or similar approved fuels) during the periods the ship is at a berth, excluding the first and last hour of the berthing period. The sulphur content of the fuel may not exceed 0.5%.

“The requirements impose criminal sanctions against the owners (including any bareboat charterers and ship manager) and the Master. A contravention of the provisions relating to fuel use attracts a maximum fine of HK$200,000 ($25,802) and a maximum imprisonment of six months,” he said.

Many in the shipping industry have expressed concerns that the requisite low-sulphur fuels may not be in sufficient supply for a worldwide-sulphur cap, due to shortages in refining capacity, a cause of “a lot of anxiety” according to ExxonMobil policy planning senior advisor Eddy Van Bouwel, speaking at June’s Nor-Shipping.

He said, “There are increasing demands on shipowners to comply with mandates regarding the use of low-sulphur fuels in ships. Shipowners need to be aware of the differing rules and costs across jurisdictions as they face significant fines for non-compliance.

“Industry concerns include technical issues such as low viscosity, lack of lubricity, and low density of the new fuels. Other issues are the higher costs of these fuels, as well as difficulties in obtaining them in some parts of the world. To avoid such problems, shipowners should consult their engine and boiler manufacturers for advice on operating with low-sulphur fuels and the need for equipment and system modifications.”



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