Photo: © Massimo Vernicesole –

Ban dirty residual fuels in the Arctic

A new study by the International Council on Clean Transport (ICCT) compares the economic and environmental trade-offs of switching from heavy residual fuel oil (HFO) to two alternative fuels, distillate fuel and liquefied natural gas (LNG), in the Arctic. Switching from HFO to LNG is said to be challenging, because most ships in the Arctic fleet would need to be converted to operate on LNG, which is a potentially expensive undertaking in the short term.

Switching to cleaner distillate fuels is more feasible – it is estimated to cost US$9 to 11 million to switch all of the ships in the Arctic fleet that use HFO, other residual fuels, and residual fuel blends to distillate fuels in 2020 and beyond. This represents a 4 per cent increase in fleet-wide fuel costs for Arctic ships and avoids the potential costs of cleaning up an HFO spill – costs that have routinely exceeded $100 million per incident.

The study concludes that prohibiting any petroleum-based fuel oil in the region provides the greatest long-term protection from the environmental and economic risks. In the meantime, the short-term solution would be to prohibit the use and carriage of HFO, desulphurised residual fuel, or residual fuel blends, as this could immediately reduce the risks.

Source: The ICCT, 18 April 2017 (


In this issue