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UK Minister Rebuffs Plea to Delay SOx Limit Implementation

June 25, 2014

Minister Stephen Hammond

Minister Stephen Hammond

An attempt by the UK’s Chamber of Shipping last week to persuade the British government that the industry needed more time to comply with new sulphur emission limits entering force on 1 January next year received short shrift from the shipping minister. However the Chamber, along with other European shipowners' associations, is reported to be determined to continue its campaign, reports shipping trade association Maritime London.

The owners’ organisations say that switching to distillate fuel will be too costly and would lead to job losses and modal shifts from sea to road transport while the other option of fitting scrubbers has only just become available and it will take time to to fit this equipment.

Addressing MPs in the House of Commons, UK minister for shipping, Stephen Hammond, said: "I am pretty disappointed that the Chamber of Shipping continues to act as if these are new limits, and that these limits are inherently undesirable and that the UK government should have avoided them." 

He referred to a statement made by the Chamber in June 2008 that described the deadlines agreed at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as realistic and giving the shipping and oil industry sufficient time to prepare.

The minister said that the Chamber had been brought into government consultations about the new Emission Control Area (ECA) sulphur limits agreed in 2008 at every stage. Mr Hammond said: "So to pretend today that this is something new is slightly disingenuous by the Chamber of Shipping."

The Chamber's case, which it has set out in a letter to prime minister David Cameron, is that although it agrees with the 0.1% sulphur limit within ECAs, it points out that IMO recognised that new technology would need to be developed. For this reason and due to concerns over low sulphur fuel supply, IMO said that the implementation of these regulations should have a degree of flexibility, to allow companies to transition into the new era without damaging their business.

The Chamber, and the European Communities Shipowners Associations (ECSA), argue that the European Commission removed this flexibility and pragmatism – and jobs will be lost as a result. ECSA has sent an open letter to EU member states and the European Commission.

In presenting its case, Chamber quotes a recent AMEC report that said implementing new regulations before the technology is ready could cost 2,000 UK jobs could be lost, thousands more lorries will clog up roads and 12 million tonnes of additional Co2 will be emitted into the atmosphere. AMEC puts the cost of switching to distillate fuel at over GBP300-million.

The Chamber's CEO, Guy Platten, said: “We support the move to reduce sulphur emissions and the introduction of tough new limits. “But the sharp increase in demand for low sulphur fuel will see a massive spike in costs both for shipowners and potentially for ordinary diesel car users - so we need to use the new technology instead. But that technology is only now beginning to work, and could take up to two years to fit properly to all of our ships.”

He continued: “Reducing sulphur is a job we agree needs doing, but it needs to be done in a pragmatic way that protects jobs as well as the environment. All we’re asking for is the EU to understand the practical realities we face and give us the time we need to comply.”

Source: Maritime London


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