Shipping & Logistics

Set of guidelines to rein in emissions by ships approved

Kilindini harbour
Singapore container ship Ever Dainty arrives at the Port of Mombasa through the Kilindini harbour in January. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has now approved and adopted a comprehensive set of guidance and guidelines to reduce gas emissions from ships by 2020.

The new guidelines support implementation of the lower 0.50 percent limit on sulphur in ships’ fuel oil, which will take effect from 1 January 2020.

These were the resolutions of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) that met for its 74th session between May 13 and May 17.

In their latest release, IMO said the 2020 plan will bring in considerable benefits for the environment and human health.

“The stricter limit will be applicable globally under IMO’s MARPOL treaty and in designated emission control areas (ECAs), the sulphur limit will remain at 0.10 percent,” IMO said in its statement.


The January 2020 implementation date was adopted in 2008 and confirmed in 2016.

The IMO has been working with member States and the industry to support implementation of the new limit, including preparation of amendments to MARPOL Annex VI and development of guidance and guidelines.

The meeting adopted guidelines for consistent implementation of the 0.50 pe cent sulphur limit under MARPOL Annex VI - with sections on the impact on fuel and machinery systems resulting from new fuel blends or fuel types.

Also adopted are verification issues and control mechanism and actions, including port State control and samples of fuel oil used on board; a standard reporting format for fuel oil non-availability (fuel oil non-availability report (FONAR)); and possible safety implications relating to fuel oils meeting the 0.50 per cent.

Also approved is guidance on indication of ongoing compliance in case of failure of a single monitoring instrument, and recommended actions to take if the exhaust gas cleaning system (EGCS) fails to meet the provision of the Guidelines.

IMO said the guidance covers possible actions to be taken — following discussions between ship, flag State and port State— when a ship is found to have on board non-compliant fuel oil either as a consequence of compliant fuel oil being not available when the ship bunkered fuel oil or the ship identifying through post bunkering testing that the fuel oil on board is non-compliant.

“According to IMO, some ships use exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) (“scrubbers”), accepted by their flag States as an alternative equivalent means to meet the sulphur limit requirement.

“The Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR) is undertaking a review of the 2015 Guidelines on Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS). The guidelines include, among other things, washwater discharge standards,” said the statement.

Maritime and Shipping Affairs PS Nancy Karigithu said as a member of IMO, Kenya is obliged to make sure greenhouse gas emission from ships is controlled.

“We are full aware of it and working within Imo as members, it is our obligation to have this matter take centre stage in international shipping,” she said.

Mrs Karigithu said Kenya has ratified the Marpol Convention that has six annexes that address different issues of marine pollution.

“Maple annexes six specifically address itself to air pollution and Kenya has ratified maple annex six. We have gone further to bring awareness on the obligation that the government has in terms of addressing maple and also gone further and become as champions of the same issue in Africa,” she said.

The government she said is working on the Maritime Technology Corporation Centre(MTTC) which seeks to address the issue of pollution.

“One of the major one is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from shipping and some of the pilot projects we are undertaking at MTTC Africa is reducing greenhouse gas emissions from ships when they are in ports,” she said.

Kenya Ships Agents Association Chief Executive Officer Juma Tella said in an interview that reducing greenhouse emissions from ships is an international convention that no country can evade.

He said almost all shipping companies have already complied with the rules and regulations.

“As we speak now, there are some ports that have already complied and it is illegal to send ships that have not complied to those ports, or else, you will be heavily penalised,” said Mr Tella.

He added that shipping agents are complying with the IMO regulations and gave an example of Messina vessels he said are fully equipped with scrubber on the main engine and on the generators.

“Messina vessels also have even electric wire in case a port is equipped to supply electricity to the vessels while at the berth,” said Mr Tellah on Messina vessels.

Maersk Line became one of the shipping lines to start working on reducing sulphur emissions in their ships.

A statement from Maersk said the organisation is looking into all possible and available options to comply with the 2020 sulfur cap, that is low sulfur fuels, LNG, and scrubbers

Various initiatives are being taken to secure the right compliant fuels “at the best possible price”. Investments have been made in scrubbers for a limited number of vessels.

“To enable customers to plan for 2020, Maersk has introduced a simple, predictable surcharge (BAF) to recover the extra costs and also various initiatives are being taken to secure the right compliant fuels at the best possible price,” the statement said.

A statement sent to Shipping by Maersk’s Africa Communication Manager, Augustine Fischer said the shipping line aims at having carbon neutral vessels commercially viable by 2030 and calls for strong industry involvement.