01 NOV 2004
MARPOL Annex VI regulates the emission to the atmosphere of specified pollutants from ships, including nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and heavy metals, and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). These substances contribute to environmental problems including acidification/acid rain (NOx, SOx), eutrophication or oxygen depletion of inland and some coastal waters (NOx), the creation of ground level ozone (VOCs and NOx), the depletion of atmospheric ozone (CFCs) and the accumulation of PCBs and heavy metals in the food chain – i.e., a wide range of both regional and global environmental concerns.
When Annex VI enters into force shipowners must ensure that all ships of 400 GT or above, and all platforms and drilling rigs engaged in voyages to ports and waters where the MARPOL convention applies, have a valid International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate (IAPPC) confirming compliance with both the equipment and operational requirements of Annex VI. The certificate is issued on behalf of the flag state. As with other MARPOL certificates, the states will in most cases delegate the certification to the classification societies. A grace period is provided for ships in service to obtain the necessary certificate; in which case the IAPPC initial survey is to be undertaken no later than the first scheduled dry-docking thereafter, although in all cases within three years of the date of entry into force.
Regulation 12 – Prohibits the use or release of ozone-depleting substances (CFCs). New installations containing ozone-depleting substances are prohibited on all ships; however, existing installations containing hydro-chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are permitted until 1st January 2020.
Regulation 13 – Restricts NOx emissions from diesel engines according to a corresponding technical code and applies to engines with a power output of more than 130 kW, installed or subject to a “major conversion” after 1st January 2000 (except emergency generators). NOx emission from an engine is closely related to the design of the engine. Classification societies have taken this into account for some years already. The quality of the fuel itself also has a significant impact on the NOx emission level, and is addressed in regulation 18.
Regulation 14 – Restricts SOx emissions from ships by introducing a maximum sulphur content in marine fuels of 4.5 per cent. In addition, MARPOL Annex VI identifies SOx emission control areas (SECA). In these areas the maximum sulphur content of marine fuels used is 1.5 per cent. The Baltic Sea is the only area that is defined as a SECA in Annex VI. However, the North Sea has met the necessary criteria to be declared a SECA after the entry into force of the Annex. Furthermore, there may be other areas, i.e., areas to the west of the British Isles, west of continental Europe, US coastal waters or the Mediterranean, in total or in part, which may be proposed as SECAs in the near future. From the above, it is apparent that vessels may have to carry several grades of fuel oil, and thus overcome related potential practical problems.
Regulation 15 – States that in ports where there is a need to control the emission of VOCs, there is also a requirement for the ports to ensure appropriate recovery facilities are available.
Regulation 16 – Prohibits the incineration of certain substances, including; PCBs, garbage containing traces of heavy metals, refined petroleum products containing halogen compounds and residues from MARPOL Annex I, II and III cargoes.
Regulation 18 – Contains standards regarding the quality documentation requirements for fuel oil. The fuel oil must be free from inorganic oil, is not to include added substances or chemical waste and is not to exceed the sulphur limits of 4.5 per cent or 1.5 per cent. With respect to documentation, a bunker delivery note must be issued and retained specifying, among others, the oil-product name, density at 15 degrees Celsius and the sulphur content.
Failure to comply
In light of the implications MARPOL Annex VI has on the required fuel oil quality in given areas, it is recommended that owners consider the relevant charterparty terms to protect their position with respect to potential fines and/or charterparty disputes. BIMCO have drafted a relevant clause in this respect, the BIMCO Fuel Sulphur Content Clause for Time Charter Parties.1
When MARPOL Annex VI comes into force next year as the last of the six annexes, MARPOL will provide a comprehensive set of international regulations related to ship-generated pollution.