Shipping & Logistics

Shippers in drive to meet IMO fuel pollution limits

A tugboat leads MV Ever Diamond Green to dock at Mombasa port.
A tugboat leads MV Ever Diamond Green to dock at Mombasa port. The ship offloaded 1,785 containers last July, setting the record for the largest number of containers ever delivered at the port. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NMG 

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has announced the reduction of sulphur in fuel used by ships.

IMO in its latest report said that from January 1, 2020, sulphur in fuel used to run ships will be reduced to 0.50 per cent m/m (mass by mass).

According to the organisation, the move is expected to significantly reduce the amount of sulphur oxide emitted by ships and should have major health and environmental benefits for the world, particularly for populations living close to ports and coasts.

The move has elicited a number of activities by shipping organisations and other players in the maritime industry to meet the requirements.

Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) managing director Daniel Manduku said they were complying with the new IMO regulations.


“KPA is already complying with all the rules and regulations,” said Dr Manduku in a short statement to Shipping.

Mombasa is increasingly becoming a major global port. The port received a major boost last year when a huge vessel dubbed MV EVER Diamond made its maiden call. The ship, by Evergreen Shipping Line and with a length of 294.1 metres, docked at berth 17 carrying 1,785 import containers.

Last October another vessel, MSC Maxine, made a maiden call at the port with container capacity of 9,411 TEUs, the largest container carrier ever to dock at the port. It also recorded an average of 181 gross moves per hour to break Liberia registered Livorno’s record of 140 gross moves per hour.

The Panama flagged vessel has a length of 300 metres, a breadth of 48 metres, height of 62 metres, deadweight of 110,629 tonnes and 94,469 gross tonnage.

Mombasa port was named the sixth biggest in Africa in 2016 after Tanger- Med, Port Said, Durban, Alexandria and Lagos. It is also among the top 120 ports globally.

With the increasing ship traffic at Mombasa port, controlling emissions is a critical matter.

Sulphur oxide is harmful to humans. It causes respiratory s problems and lung diseases. Released in the atmosphere, it leads to acid rain which can harm crops, forests and aquatic animals and contributes to the acidification of oceans.

“Limiting sulphur emission by ships will improve air quality and protect the environment.

“IMO regulations to reduce sulphur oxide emissions from ships first came into force in 2005, under Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. Since then, the limits on sulphur oxides have been progressively tightened,” said IMO in its report.

In 2016, ships carried more than 10 billion tonnes of cargo for the first time, according to United Nation Conference on Trade and Development(UNCTAD). IMO said ships emit pollutants and other harmful emissions.

“But they also transport large quantities of vital goods across the world’s oceans and seaborne trade continues to increase.

“IMO regulations on energy efficiency support demand for ever greener and cleaner shipping. A ship which is more energy efficient burns less fuel and so emits less air pollution,” said the statement. Kenya Ships Agents Association CEO Juma Tella told Shipping that several companies have already complied with the IMO rules.

“Already shipping agents are complying with the regulations. For example, Messina vessels are fully equipped with scrubber on the main engine and on the generators,” said Mr Tella.

Maersk Line is also working on reducing sulphur emissions by its ships.

A statement from Maersk said the organisation was looking into options to comply with the 2020 sulphur cap.

“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 firm.

A statement sent to Shipping by Maersk’s Africa Communication Manager Augustine Fischer said the shipping line plans to have carbon neutral vessels by 2030 and called for strong industry involvement. “Aimed at accelerating the transition to carbon neutral shipping, Maersk announces its goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

“To achieve this goal, carbon neutral vessels must be commercially viable by 2030 and an acceleration in new innovations and adoption of new technology is required.

“Climate is one of the most important issues in the world, and carrying around 80 per cent of global trade, the shipping industry is vital to finding solutions. By now, Maersk’s relative CO2 emissions have been reduced by 46 per cent, about nine per cent more than the industry average,” the shipping line said.

“The only possible way to achieve the so-much-needed decarbonisation in our industry is by fully transforming to new carbon neutral fuels and supply chains,” says Søren Toft, Chief Operating Officer at AP Moller-Maersk.

Last year, the government said measures had been put in place to mitigate pollution in the Indian Ocean.

State Department for Maritime and Shipping Affairs Principal Secretary Nancy Karigithu said last year that Kenya would ensure that emission from ships is controlled. “Working within our membership at IMO and our obligations through international maritime obligations, this issue has taken centre-stage in international shipping and we are well aware of that,” she said.

Ms Karigithu said that Kenya had ratified the Maple Convention which addresses different issues of marine pollution.

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

Ms Karigithu said the government was working on the Maritime Technology Corporation Centre which seeks to address the issue of pollution.

“MTTC brings various stakeholders together. For example, we are working with the meteorological department to measure air quality at the port as part of raising awareness and coming up with a project that will address this issue,”she said.