“IMO 2020” requirements for ships to cut sulphur oxide emissions enter into effect in just over one month’s time. This will significantly reduce air pollution from ships with positive benefits for human health and the environment.

The new requirement means that the global limit for sulphur in fuel oil used on board ships will be reduced to 0.50% m/m (mass by mass). Within designated emission control areas (ECAs), the limit will remain at 0.10%. The new limit will be mandatory, under a regulation in Annex VI of IMO’s MARPOL convention for the prevention of pollution from ships.

Both the Organization and the shipping sector – as well as refineries and fuel (bunker) suppliers – have been rigorously preparing for the new limit. For most ships this will mean a switch to new types of compliant fuel oils, so-called very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO), or marine gas/diesel oil. The VLSFO blends are new to the market.

IMO has issued comprehensive guidance (outlined in IMO 2020 leaflet), and the shipping industry has developed guidance, including IMO 2020 ICS Guidance on compliance for shipping companies and crews.