Maersk Line officially announced that the company will commence using low-sulphur fuel in their engines while at berth in Hong Kong, thereby kicking off the first voluntary fuel switch scheme in Asia.
“By switching from bunker to cleaner fuel at berth, we significantly reduce emissions of sulphur to the air,” said Tim Smith, Chief Executive of Maersk Line’s North Asia Region.
Maersk Line makes around 850 port calls in Hong Kong every year. Switching from bunker fuel, which is used at high sea, to low-sulphur fuel will reduce Maersk Line’s emissions of unhealthy sulphur oxides (SOx) and particles by at least 80%. The Hong Kong initiative will come at an added cost of $1m annually to Maersk Line.
Based on experiences from California, Houston and elsewhere Maersk Line and other liner shipping companies were ready to act fast when the Civic Exchange, a local business NGO, and Hong Kong’s environmental authorities explored the possibility of a local fuel switch.
“By engaging in voluntary fuel switches in Hong Kong and elsewhere, we want to demonstrate that it is a way to quickly reduce sulphur emissions without any technical difficulties. We support strict sulphur regulation and we hope that our fuel switches will inspire authorities to raise the regulatory bar on SOx,” said Morten Engelstoft, Chief Operating Officer in Maersk Line.
“Shipping is very efficient in terms of cutting CO2 emissions compared with other means of transportation. But shipping’s SOx emissions need to be dealt with,” says Engelstoft.
For Maersk Line vessels calling Hong Kong, the actual order to switch fuel took effect on 5 September 2010.