Updated 19 August 2020
From 1 September 2020 all ships anchored or at berth in the Korean ports of Incheon, Pyeongtaek-Dangjin, Yeosu-Gwangyang, Busan and Ulsan must burn fuel with a maximum sulphur content of 0.10%.
South Korea’s Special Act on Air Quality Improvement in Port and Other Areas entered into force on 1 January 2020 as a part of an ongoing national programme to reduce air pollution from shipping and port activities. The act introduces a series of measures, some of which will have direct impact on ships’ operational practices, and we advise ship operators and masters to make note of the following:
New Korean emission control areas
Effective from 1 September 2020, the following South Korean port areas become domestic emission control areas (ECAs):
The maps below have been extracted from the Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries’ announcement on 26 December 2019 (in Korean) and the red lines in the maps indicate the extent of the ECA in each port.
The Korean Register's Technical information of 20 January includes the exact coordinates for the different domestic ECAs.
New sulphur emission limits
South Korea is introducing a gradual implementation of requirements covering emissions of air pollutants by ships:
While there is no direct link between the South Korean port air quality act and MARPOL Annex VI, we understand that the South Korean authorities will also accept alternative compliance methods that are at least as effective in terms of sulphur emission reductions, e.g. use of scrubbers for exhaust gas cleaning and clean fuel (LNG).
Guidelines on implementation
The methods of verification used by South Korean inspectors could be expected to be in line with those set out in MARPOL Annex VI and include:
In order to avoid any delay or penalty being incurred by the ship, it should also be ensured that:
Additional details and recommendations on how to comply with the new requirements are also available in MOF’s brochure “Guidance to SOx Emission Control Areas in Korean Ports”.
Voluntary speed reduction programme
A programme that encourages and incentivises slow steaming ships was implemented as early as December 2019, just in time for it to be effective during the winter months when air quality is at its worst. The programme applies to the ports of Busan, Ulsan, Yeosu-Gwangyang and Incheon, and participating ships will receive discounts on port entry/leave fees for complying with the slow-steaming requirements.
The sea areas in which the speed reductions apply span 20 nautical miles in radius, measured from a specific lighthouse in each port. Ships eligible for participation varies at each port but must be above 3,000 GT and among the top three “fine-dust emitting” ship types in the specific port.
For additional information on the vessel speed reduction programme and eligible ships, please refer to the MOF’s announcement on 12 December 2020 (English).
A number of regions, states and ports around the world have implemented their own strict sulphur emission limits - and the list of such places is likely to grow in the future. Ship operators must therefore ensure crews are familiar with the sulphur emission limits in force in the jurisdiction to which they trade. Crews should also be provided with clear procedures and guidance to this effect. Please visit our insight “Regional sulphur emission limits at a glance” for a round-up of some of the places where special sulphur emission regulations apply.
We are grateful to our Korean correspondents KOMOS Marine, Oil Pollution Surveyors & Adjusters Co., Ltd. for their assistance in preparing this alert.