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A new regulation requires vessels to burn fuel oil with a sulphur content not exceeding 0.50 per cent while at berth in Hong Kong.

Under the new Hong Kong Air Pollution Control (Ocean Going Vessels) (Fuel at Berth) Regulation, which was tabled at the Legislative Council on 18 March 2015, vessels will be required to burn fuel oil with a sulphur content not exceeding 0.50 per cent by weight, LNG or any other fuel approved by the Director of Environmental Protection whilst berthed in Hong Kong.

The new Regulation is set to come into operation on 1 July 2015 and requires vessels to:

  • switch to compliant fuel within one hour of arriving at their berth and burn compliant fuel until not less than one hour prior to departure;1
  • record dates and times of vessel’s arrival and departure and of commencement and completion of fuel change-over operations as soon as practicable after each occurrence; and
  • keep records of the same onboard the vessel for a period of at least three years, readily available for inspection at all reasonable times.

Vessels using approved technologies (scrubbers) that can achieve a reduction of sulphur dioxide at least as effectively as the use of low sulphur marine fuel may be exempted from switching to one of the compliant fuels. An application must be made in writing to the authorities at least 14 days before the date on which the vessel intends to make its first exempted call at Hong Kong.

Members and clients with vessels trading to/from Hong Kong should take note of the above and prepare their vessels and crew for compliance as necessary. Once the Regulation takes effect, masters and owners of vessels burning non-compliant fuels while at berth in Hong Kong could be fined up to a maximum of HKD 200,000 and imprisoned for six months. Similarly, masters and owners who do not record or keep the required particulars could face fines of HKD 50,000 and three months imprisonment.

For more details, please see the Hong Kong Government’s recent press release and to the Air Pollution Control (Ocean Going Vessels) (Fuel at Berth) Regulation gazetted on 13 March 2015. A full version of Hong Kong’s Air Pollution Ordinance is available on the Hong Kong Government Environmental protection Department’s website by following the menu path: Laws & Regulations > Environmental Legislation > Links to Ordinances & Regulations > Air Pollution Control Ordinance (Cap.311).


1 In the Regulation, berth means a place in the waters of Hong Kong at which the vessel is not underway; arrival means the moment when the vessel is first securely moored or anchored at a berth; and departure means the moment when the vessel is untied from its berth.