All About IMO 2020 Sulphur Rule


On 1 January 2020, a new limit on the sulphur content in the fuel oil used on board ships came into force, marking a significant milestone to improve air quality, preserve the environment and protect human health, Known as “IMO 2020”, says in article published on their website.

What is IMO 2020 rule?

The rule limits the sulphur in the fuel oil used on board ships operating outside designated emission control areas to 0.50% m/m (mass by mass) – a significant reduction from the previous limit of 3.5%. Within specific designated emission control areas the limits were already stricter (0.10%).

What are the impacts of the new limit on human health?

The new limit was forecast to lead to a 77% drop in overall sulphur oxide emissions from ships – a reduction equivalent to 8.5 million metric tonnes of SOx. Sulphur oxide are linked to asthma, pulmonary, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

What must ships do to comply with the new IMO regulations?

Ships must use fuel oil which is inherently low enough in sulphur, or install an appropriate exhaust “alternative” method, in order to meet IMO requirements. Some ships limit the air pollutants by installing exhaust gas cleaning systems, also known as “scrubbers”.

What is IMO doing to ensure compliance with the 0.50% limit?

Flag States (the State of registry of a ship) and port States have rights and responsibilities to enforce compliance. IMO has adopted 2019 Guidelines for port State control under MARPOL Annex VI Chapter 3.

Do small ships have to comply with the sulphur limit?

Yes, the MARPOL regulations apply to all ships. Only larger ships of 400 gross tonnage and above engaged in voyages to ports or offshore terminals under the jurisdiction of other Parties have to obtain an International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate, issued by the ship’s flag State. But all sizes of ships must use fuel oil that meets the 0.50% limit since 1 January 2020.

Does the sulphur limit only apply to ships on international voyages?

The sulphur oxides regulation (MARPOL Annex VI, regulation 14) applies to all ships, whether they are on international voyages, between two or more countries; or domestic voyages, solely within the waters of a Party to the MARPOL Annex.

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