New EU sulphur regulations in ports

From 1 January 2010, ships using ports within the EU are not allowed to use marine fuels with a sulphur content exceeding 0.1% while at berth. Moreover, marine gas oils with a sulphur content higher than 0.1% are not allowed to be marketed in any EU member state.

Each country is obliged to ensure that these rules are implemented in practise. Member states shall check by sampling that the sulphur content of marine fuels complies with these provisions, which are laid down in directive 2005/33/EC (amending directive 1999/32/EC relating to a reduction in the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels).

In spite of the fact that nearly five years have now passed since this legislation was adopted, claims have been raised that shipowners should be given more time to adapt, e.g. to carry out technical modifications that may be needed when switching from heavy fuel oil to low-sulphur distillate fuel.

A Commission decision from 29 December 2009 concludes that technical solutions are available and sufficient time for technical adaptation has been given. A document on “Questions and Answers” relating to implementation and enforcement of this part of the directive published on the Commission’s website, makes it clear that the directive “does not allow for any delay, nor for exemptions other than those already included and therefore [the implementation date] cannot be postponed.”

Several countries, including Sweden, Denmark and Norway, have announced that they will be strictly enforcing the sulphur regulation.

For more information, and to download the “Questions and Answers” document:

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