A report in the New Zealand Herald suggests that the country is considering signing up to Annex VI despite previous objections from domestic ship operators and local refiners.
The newspaper report says that New Zealand's reluctance to adopt international regulations on cleaner marine fuel is causing confusion and uncertainty in the domestic shipping industry as a January 1, 2020, deadline approaches.
Refining NZ - which is responsible for meeting about 70 per cent of New Zealand's fuel needs - doesn't make low-sulphur fuel but oil companies are expected to make available fuel that meets the standard. In the meantime, most of the ships operating around New Zealand that are flagged to countries which have ratified the annex will be bound by it.
Quoted in the report, Annabel Young, executive director of the NZ Shipping Federation, which represents coastal ship operators, said about 98 per cent of the world's shipping had adopted the new standard but local shipowners have been left in the dark about when, or if, the new rules will apply to domestic coastal shipping.
Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter said New Zealand is a party to MARPOL, an international treaty to reduce various types of maritime pollution. "Previous governments, however, chose not to sign up to Annex VI of MARPOL which regulates shipping emissions affecting human health and the climate," she said in comments supplied to the Herald.
The ports sector and Refining NZ have made a case for delaying its introduction until 2023.
The lack of 2020 compliant fuel could be a problem for any ships calling to New Zealand and planning to bunker there. The country has a large agricultural export sector and is a destination for many of the major cruise operators. However, most of the lines serving New Zealand are likely to bunker in Singapore rather than New Zealand itself and many of the cruise ships have already been fitted with scrubbers so overcoming the possible obstacle. Supplies of compliant MGO are already available in New Zealand.