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IMO’s lower sulphur limit integrated smoothly with major environmental benefits

January 18, 2021

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) reports that the global shipping fleet has adjusted without issue to the lower 0.5% sulphur content limit for marine fuel oil and significantly reducing the mode’s related air pollution as a result.

Under the so-called “IMO 2020” regulation, the sulphur content limit was reduced to 0.5% (from 3.5% previously) as of January 1, 2020 to bring about a 70% cut in shipping’s total sulphur oxide emissions.

A year later, the IMO reports that the transition has been “extremely smooth” and credits the preparations done by all stakeholders prior to the new rule entering into force. Through 2020, just 55 cases of 0.50% compliant fuel being unavailable were reported to the IMO’s Global Integrated Shipping Information System (GISIS).

“Giving that more than 60,000 ships plied the world’s oceans in trade last year, this was a remarkably low percentage of ships encountering difficulty in obtaining compliant fuel,” noted Roel Hoenders, head of the IMO’s Air Pollution and Energy Efficiency.

While most ships complied by using either very low sulphur fuel oil or marine gas oil, some made a switch to liquefied natural gas or biofuels. Others used exhaust gas cleaning systems. Approximately 3,100 of these scrubber systems were registered with the IMO as an approved equivalent method by the end of last year.

For more information on the cleaner fuel use and its environmental benefits, go to https://www.imo.org/en/MediaCentre/HotTopics/Pages/Sulphur-2020.aspx

Image from IMO Website