Air pollutant emissions from maritime transport where cargo is transported over long distances, contribute to the air quality problems in the EU. The findings from ‘The Thematic Strategy 2005’ concluded that sulphur emissions from shipping were forecast to exceed those from all land-based sources by 2020.

As from 1st January 2015, the new sulphur emissions directive 2005/33/EC, requires vessels which enter the Baltic Sea, North Sea and English Channel, to reduce the sulphur content of fuels to 1.5%.

Vessel operators and shipping lines are working with a number of possible solutions to comply with this directive, with three main options currently being discussed:

  • To change to much cleaner and more expensive diesel with low sulphur content (0.1%)
  • To install purification systems on the ships exhaust pipes.
  • To invest in new ships which use alternative fuels.

The most likely short term option for all carriers would be to change to the more expensive diesel, and it would be possible to burn this diesel during a vessels journey in the affected areas only. The increased costs would be passed onto the customer as a Low Sulphur Surcharge from the implementation date 1st January. We will update this article with confirmation of any new arrangements as and when they are officially announced.