Who is ready to try on the Sulphur Cap 2020?

On January 1, according to new IMO requirements, the sulphur content in vessel fuel must be reduced from 3.5% to 0.5%, unless the ships are equipped with an Exhaust Gas Cleaning System.

“The main type of “bunker” oil for ships is heavy fuel oil, derived as a residue from crude oil distillation. Crude oil contains sulphur which, following combustion in the engine, ends up in ship SOx emissions. Limiting SOx emissions from ships will improve air quality and protects the environment,” according to IMO’s website.

Since IMO decided to implement a 0.5 % Sulphur Cap on ship fuel from 2020, many objections have been raised all over the world. Shipping companies, freight forwarders and states expressed their concerns regarding the inadequacy of the operating budget for the implementation of IMO 2020, short term to do it, lack of Low Sulphur Fuel Oil (LSFO), etc. They turned to IMO to grant a delay, but received an emphatic no.

It also stated, ignoring these requirements will face a fine or even a prison term. The amount of fine is determined by a flag state or a sea port.

It’s no secret that changing over from High sulfur to Low sulfur or installing scrubber systems onboard requires huge money. Shipping is just four months away from next year, but not all maritime nations have confirmed the implementation of IMO 2020. For example, FullAvanteNews reports, that in Latin America there is still no clarity about this issue. However, underdevelopment, large amount of High Sulphur Fuel Oil (HSFO) and a high impact on Opex can delay implementation.

An interesting situation happened with Indonesia. About a month ago, Indonesian Ministry of Transportation claimed that the country will not enforce IMO 2020 on domestic fleet due to the high cost of more cleaner fuel. According to it, in 2020, the Indonesian domestic fleet is planning to use 3,5 % sulfur fuel without scrubber systems in the territorial waters.

As Indonesian authorities claimed, state oil company Pertamina produced huge amounts fuel oil with a high sulfur content. That was one of the reasons not to enforcing the Global Sulphur Cap on the domestic fleet.

It should be reminded, Indonesia is an archipelago consisting of about 18,000 islands with mostly sea communications. IMO’s ‘Sulphur Directive’ can seriously shake the Public economics.

All ships flying the Indonesian flag on international trades will comply with IMO’s requirements 2020. Indonesia will also demand that all foreign vessels entering the country’s territorial waters do the same.

The Indonesian government has expressed its loyalty to IMO, but the implementation of the new directive requires more time.

Then IMO did not comment on this situation, because they have not received any formal notification from Indonesia on this topic. Responding to The Maritime Telegraph, IMO media centre informed, that Indonesia is a Party to MARPOL Annex VI, which includes the sulphur oxides regulation.

​“The sulphur oxides regulation (MARPOL Annex VI, regulation 14) applies to all ships, whether they are on international voyages, between two or more countries; or domestic voyages, solely within the waters of a Party to the MARPOL Annex.”

In agreement with IMO requirements, the MARPOL regulations apply to all ships. Only larger ships of 400 gross tonnage and above engaged in voyages to ports or offshore terminals under the jurisdiction of other Parties have to have an International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate, issued by the ship’s flag State. But all sizes of ships will need to use fuel oil that meets the 0.5% limit from 1 January 2020.

Some smaller ships may already be using fuel oil that meets the limit, such as a marine distillate suitable for their engines. By the way, small ships operating in the already-designated emission control areas will be using fuel oil that meets the 0.10% limit in those emission control areas.

In consonance with to the latest information, Indonesian authorities has changed its mind in favor of implementing IMO 2020. As Reuters reports, the Transportation Ministry’s director of shipping and maritime affairs Sudiono stated, that the ‘Sulphur Directive’ is going to be implemented to every Indonesian-flagged vessel. He added, that Pertamina will produce 380,000 kL per year of Pertamina will produce 380,000 kL per year of 0.5%. sulphur fuel oil. So, since January 1, domestic and foreign fleets of Indonesia will use LSFO. Sudiono didn’t share any reason for his sudden change.

Most global shipping companies are taking measures to modernize their fleet and bring the crew members up to date on following 2020 right now. All indications are that the coming year will be a turning point for not only shipping, but also for maritime nations.