IBIA warns over SECA conflict

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The International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) has warned that, from July next year, passenger ships operating in European territorial waters could, during the course of one single voyage, be subject to three different limits regulating the amount of sulphur content in the fuels they consume.

This situation results from a reduction, from 1.5% to 1%, in the maximum allowable sulphur content of fuels used by ships operating in designated Emission Control Areas (ECAs) covering the Baltic and North Sea/English Channel. This compares with the 1.5% sulphur limit applicable to passenger ships when operating on a regular service to or from EC ports under European law.

Ian Adams, Chief Executive of IBIA, said: “Under this scenario, a passenger vessel leaving Northern Europe for a Mediterranean cruise will be required, with effect from July 1 next year, to burn a maximum 1% sulphur fuel in the Baltic and North Sea and a maximum 1.5% in the Mediterranean, while potentially being able to burn 4.5% outside EU territorial waters.

“IBIA understands that, since the rules covering passenger ship emissions are contained in an EU directive, they are not affected by any change in the IMO standard for ECAs. The only way in which this apparent anomaly can be addressed is by a revision of EU Directive 1999/32/EC, which covers the sulphur content of liquid fuels derived from petroleum, including those used by seagoing ships.

“Absent any amendment of the EU directive, owners, operators and their bunker suppliers will need to exercise extreme vigilance in ensuring that they do not fall foul of the regulations come July of next year, or simply play safe by opting to use a maximum 1% sulphur fuel at all times.”