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Thursday, January 30, 2020  (Comments: 1)

Yet more compelling evidence has come to light that, in terms of overall emission reduction, burning heavy fuel oil (HFO) in a ship equipped with an exhaust gas cleaning system (scrubber) is the optimal solution, this time as a result of research submitted to the IMO by Germany and Finland.

Several environmental pressure groups have been responding to the Germany/Finland submission, in response to the paper which describes an increase in black carbon emissions that was observed in a test engine burning various fuels, including blended very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO), a comparatively new marine fuel that has been developed to meet the IMO 2020 global sulphur limits.

“If immediate action isn’t taken by the International Maritime Organization, the shipping industry’s use of VLSFO - introduced to comply with the 2020 sulphur cap - will lead to a massive increase in Black Carbon emissions, and this will both accelerate the melting of Arctic sea ice and have a major impact on Earth’s climate,” said Dr Sian Prior, Lead Advisor to the Clean Arctic Alliance, a coalition of non-governmental organisations working for a ban on heavy fuel oil from Arctic shipping.

The call has been backed by, among others, Seas At Risk, which is an umbrella organisation of environmental NGOs from across Europe that promotes policies for protection of the marine ecosystem.

The paper has been submitted by Germany and Finland for discussion at IMO’s Sub-Committee On Pollution Prevention And Response (PPR7) meeting in February 2020. The paper highlights findings that certain blends of VLSFO contain high levels of aromatic compounds which, when combusted, lead to an increase in emissions of Black Carbon when compared with HFO and MDO/MGO. Black carbon is a potent greenhouse gas (GHG), described as a short-lived climate forcer, second only to CO2 in terms of international shipping’s contribution to global climate. Black Carbon represents 7% to 21% of shipping’s overall GHG equivalent impact.

“There are serious questions to be answered about how these blended super pollutant ‘Frankenstein’ fuels ever came to market. It beggars belief that amidst a global climate crisis, the marine fuel industry could develop these VLSFOs without knowing their effect on Black Carbon emissions and the climate, particularly in the Arctic - especially as the IMO has spent almost a decade considering how to reduce Black Carbon emissions from shipping,” said John Maggs (pictured), Senior Policy Advisor, Seas at Risk.

A number of organisations are being lobbied by the environmental groups to respond to these questions. They include IACS, IBIA, IPIECA, IMarEST, IUMI, OCIMF, and the Royal Institute of Naval Architects - all of whom have consultative status to the IMO - plus Concawe, CIMAC and JPEC. All of these organisations contributed to the Joint Industry Guidance on The Supply And Use Of 0.50%-Sulphur Marine Fuel published in August 2019.

“At next month’s PPR 7 meeting in London, the IMO must support an immediate switch to distillate fuels for ships in the Arctic and agree to develop a global rule prohibiting fuels with high Black Carbon emissions; in addition, IMO Members must adopt a resolution calling on shipowners, charterers, and fuel providers and other stakeholders to implement these measures on a voluntary basis while new regulations are developed and enter into force,” said Prior.

Germany and Finland's paper details an analysis of the impact of different fuel oil qualities on Black Carbon emissions. The paper states that the findings “clearly indicate that new blends of marine fuels with 0.50% sulphur content can contain a large percentage of aromatic compounds which have a direct impact on Black Carbon emissions”, and “demonstrated that the combustion of fuels with higher aromatic content emits higher concentrations of Black Carbon”. When burnt, the VLSFO blends are said to produce a 10% to 85% increase in Black Carbon emissions compared to HFA and between 67% to 145% (a 2.45 times increase) when compared to marine-quality distillate fuel.

The paper concludes that it will be necessary to include aromatic content, or H/C ratio, in the specification of marine fuels to the ISO 8217 standard.

Reader Comments (1)

Better go for one fuel world wide, that's distillate fuel(MGO), which will be the best solution for environment as well as the onboard crew. This implementation, everyone will go/choose cleaner fuel in future which will be no harm to environment world wide, Thanks and best Regards, Rajasekar

By Rajasekar Palanisamy on Thursday, February 6, 2020

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