Skip to main content



Wednesday, December 18, 2019 

The International Maritime Organization believes that its global limit on sulphur emissions from ships, which will enter into force on 1 January 2020, will mean a 77% drop in overall SOx emissions from ships, equivalent to an annual reduction of approximately 8.5 million metric tonnes of SOx; particulate matter will also be reduced.

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim (pictured) said: "For the past three years, IMO Member States, the shipping industry and fuel oil suppliers have been working tirelessly to prepare for this major change in the sulphur content of ships' fuel oil. I am confident that the benefits will soon be felt and that implementation will be smooth. I am very appreciative of all the efforts made by refineries, shipowners, seafarers, industry organisations and others in preparing for this hugely important change - which will have significant positive benefits for human health and the environment."

IMO has issued a series of guidelines to help the shipping sector and its Member States to prepare, including ship implementation planning guidance (addressing issues such as risk assessment for new fuels and tank cleaning) and port State control guidelines. To support smooth implementation, the IMO Secretariat has set up a dedicated hotline for queries from Member States and the shipping industry.

Compliant fuel oil may be formulated by refineries through blending fuel oils with a higher and lower sulphur content. Additives may be used to enhance other properties, such as lubricity. Ships may use different fuels, with low or even zero sulphur - for example, LNG or biofuels. However, mixture and co-mingling of different fuels are not recommended on board the ship . Shipowners should refer to the relevant ISO standards (ISO 8217 and ISO/PAS 23263:2019), and are recommended to test compatibility, stability and other relevant characters of compliant fuels to be used.

Limiting air pollutants by installing exhaust gas cleaning systems, also known as scrubbers, is accepted if flag States approve it as an alternative means to meet the sulphur limit requirement. Scrubbers enable ships to continue to use heavy fuel oil, while remaining in accordance with IMO Guidelines.

Reader Comments (0)

There are currently no comments on this article. Why not be the first and leave your thoughts below.

Leave Your Comment

Please keep your comment on topic, any inappropriate comments may be removed.

Return to index