The growth of international trade presents a global environmental challenge to finding and meeting targets for maritime emissions, such as sulphur. Emission Control Areas (ECAs) establish stricter controls for emissions within their waters than is otherwise the case. For example, as of January 2015 limits for sulphur content in ECAs dropped to 0.10 per cent, whereas the global cap is 3.5%. Some countries or regions within countries that are not within ECAs are investigating ways to reduce maritime emissions. New South Wales (NSW), Australia, is no exception.
Recently the NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) invited members from the shipping industry, associations, ports and government agencies to a forum in Sydney. The meeting was held to share ideas and information about the EPA’s plan to implement measures to reduce shipping emissions. WWL’s Roger Strevens was lone speaker representing the shipping industry addressing those in attendance.
“At the forum, I outlined WWL’s four-stream approach to sulphur,” says Strevens. “I also spoke about the importance of compliance, but the keynote to my speech was the inherent challenges of sulphur regulation enforcement.”
Strevens outlined some of the larger issues facing enforcement authorities today, including the competence and capacity of the inspectors, which differs at every port; the problems with detecting compliance while vessels are underway (i.e., not at berth); and jurisdiction. Still, Strevens emphasised the criticality of robust enforcement not withstanding these challenges.
“What I told those assembled,” says Strevens, “was that this is a global industry with a global regulator and that therefore the industry preference is for regulatory initiatives to be channeled through the International Maritime Organization (IMO). There are advantages to be reaped from that approach: communication would absolutely be better and smoother, and a patchwork of different and possibly conflicting local regulation can be avoided. The net effect is that the regulation results stand a better chance of achieving the intended goal on emissions reduction.
In 2014, the EPA commissioned international experts Det Norske Veritas Germanischer Lloyd to assess the feasibility of emission reduction measures for ships at NSW ports. DNVGL will present its findings in 2015, and the NSW EPA should make its decision shortly thereafter.
WWL’s 4-stream approach
The four-stream approach to addressing sulphur regulation involves assessing four main compliance solution approaches, namely: using bunker oil with a 0.1% sulphur content, alternative energy sources, such as liquefied natural gas, biodiesel and solar power, installing exhaust cleaning systems (scrubbers) and the use of distillates, such as marine gas oil.