IMO 2020: How Ready Is The Shipping Industry

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has directed full compliance to a global cap of 0.50 per cent on the maximum level of sulfur in marine fuel. This is a significant reduction from the current cap of 3.50 per cent.

The body has set Jan. 1, 2020 as the date of commencement of the enforcement regime. With this, vessel operators are given two broad based options- use low sulphur; compliant fuel or fit a scrubber to their vessel’s exhaust stream if they wish to continue burning high-sulphur fuel oil (HSFO). It should be noted that this regulation does not affect Emission Control Areas (ECAs), where sulphur emission cap of 0.10 per cent is still being enforced as penned in 2015.

For those that want to go the way of low-sulpguhr fuel to comply, the following options are available:

  • Low-sulphur distillates such as marine gas oil (MGO)
  • New low-sulphur fuels
  • Premium Emission Control Area (ECA) fuels
  • Liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)

The reason for the enforcement is not farfetched. It is intended to drastically cut the amount of Sulphur Oxides (SOx), which is a harmful item that causes respiratory problems and major agent in the formation of acid rain.