Early decision in support of 2020 sulphur cap necessary

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

22 September 2016


In a press conference held on 8 September 2016 at the SMM trade fair in Hamburg, Germany, the Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems Association (EGCSA) presented its case in support of the implementation of the 2020 global sulphur emissions limit. The international association represents more than 25 member companies dedicated to reducing sulphur oxides (SOx) and particulate emissions from marine exhaust gas. The EGCSA outlined its platform, that any delay to the global limit of 0.50% m/m SOx emissions will not only prolong air quality issues that harm human and environmental health, but also create further uncertainty in an industry already beset by difficulties. The sulphur limit will be discussed and possibly resolved by IMO MEPC 70 in October 2016. In his opening remarks, Don Gregory, director of EGCSA, highlighted the EGCSA’s intimate involvement in regulatory and compliance development work regarding the SOx issue, including participation in EU sub-groups such as Port Reception Facilities, Measuring, Reporting & Verification and Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS), work on IMO EGCS guidelines and collaboration on both ISO and CIMAC fuel working groups, as well as work with relevant NGOs. Mr Gregory pointed out that, by coordinating and collaborating with varied stakeholders and through the work of its members, EGCSA has taken concrete steps to enable the industry to install and operate sulphur abatement technologies more easily. The association has, for example, driven the adoption of a simple, realistic solution on how to measure and monitor scrubber washwater to meet the IMO criteria. It is now easier than ever for ship owners to be in compliance with an exhaust gas cleaning system because of this work.

Exhaust Gas Cleaning System capacity by 2020

Nils Hoy Petersen, managing director of Clean Marine and founding member of EGCSA, told the audience, “An early decision is essential to enable an ordered, safe and economic installation window prior to 2020.” He went on to explain that, “the EGCS industry is prepared for the challenge. However, this resource and capacity may become eroded if the decision is delayed.” He suggested that by mobilising the new building sector presently facing a down-turn to assist in design and installation, the capacity to provide EGCS will be even higher now than after 2020. “EGCS are essentially portable and can be fabricated pretty much anywhere in the world and transported to the installation point. The EGCSA is of the opinion that the shipping industry could carry out installation of ballast water treatment and scrubber technology simultaneously to save on off-hire and create synergies.”

The inconvenient truth of a delayed global sulphur cap

Concluding the press conference, Jan Kjetil Paulsen, senior adviser shipping of the Bellona foundation, reminded participants of the reason why the IMO decided to introduce the 0.50 % m/m SOx limit in the first place. “Before ECAs were implemented, it was estimated that shipping caused 50,000 premature deaths in Europe every year. The purpose of the proposed 0.50 % sulphur cap is to improve human health and further reduce the risk of thousands of premature deaths due to air pollution,” he said. “A dramatic reduction of SO2 in the coastal waters of Denmark due to the introduction of ECAs, has been proven to lead to significant health improvements. If the 0.50 % global sulphur cap is delayed that will, first of all, have a negative impact on the coastal waters that have no ECAs. These waters also happen to be in the proximity of some of the most densely populated regions in the world. Delaying the sulphur cap will therefore hit where it hurts the most.” Mr. Paulsen is aware that there is a cost to improving environmental standards and practices and that there might be stresses on fuel supply chains, as well as technical issues. However, he drew attention to the fact that, “any economic activity will sooner or later always run into an inconvenient truth. The answer is to change and adapt or ultimately go out of business. If the 0.50% m/m SOx cap is delayed, this will reduce motivation and business drive for new technologies and will therefore also affect motivation for developing more climate-friendly alternatives for the shipping industry.” This was published by the The Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems Association (EGCSA)