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Cutting the sulfur content of the fuels ships use

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  • Pacific Merchant Marine Council, NLUS
    The Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, an industry trade group, said Thursday: This is good news - we are fully supportive of this. We think the
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 11, 2008
      The Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, an industry trade group, said Thursday: "This is good news — we are fully supportive of this. We think the international approach that creates uniformity is the way to approach the issues."
      Though the Pacific Merchant Marine Council has not finalized its position on fuels, if the Pacific Merchant Marine Council accepts the international approach, we are likely to do so as well. For sure we have grave reservations on California's go it alone 24 miles out to sea regulations. Here are some of the previous posts on this subject.
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PMMC-NLUS/message/256 < I suggest a re-read of this one as a minimum.
      The NLUS Merchant Marine Committee meets at the NLUS National Convention the end of October. We will see if the committee takes a position. Other emmissions are also a concern - carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide among them.
      I have shared our council's concerns on this matter with NLUS leadership. I belive they are waiting for the committee meeting and convention to make a statement adopting a position.
      I have yet to get an answer on the application of these regulations to warships and Military Sealift Command transports.
      Phelps Hobart, President
      Pacific Merchant Marine Council, NLUS

      Nations to slash sulphur in ship emissions by 2015
      10 Oct 2008 17:43:19 GMT
      Source: Reuters
       (Updates with CO2 talks)

      By Stefano Ambrogi

      LONDON, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Seafaring countries have agreed new sulphur limits for ship fuels that will slash air pollutants and help clean up the oceans but will raise costs for the oil and ship sectors, a maritime industry source said on Friday.

      Governments agreed the measures, which will sharply cut harmful sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions from ships through a staggered timetable to 2015, at a London meeting of the 168-member U.N. International Maritime Organisation (IMO) late on Thursday.

      "It's a very significant agreement because it means that there will be substantial reductions in the emissions of harmful sulphur by ships," Simon Bennett, secretary at the International Chamber of Shipping, told Reuters.

      "There is going to be much greater demand in the use of distillate fuels, particularly in the years running up to 2015," he said.

      Distillate fuels such as diesel are much less polluting than the heavy residual fuel oil now widely burned in ships.

      The week-long talks also tackled how best to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, either by imposing a fuel tax or including shipping in a cap and trade scheme forcing owners to buy permits to emit the greenhouse gas.

      IMO spokeswoman, Natasha Brown, said that the issue of global warming gases had been discussed at length there had been "no specific conclusion" on market-based instruments.

      She said more talks would take place at an intersessional meeting on green house gases in March ahead of another IMO Marine Protection Committee meeting July.

      "I think this is a positive sign of an intent by the IMO member states to produce a reasonable CO2 reduction framework," said ICS marine director Peter Hinchcliffe of technical progess made at the meeting.


      Through the IMO, which governs shipping, countries agreed to cut sulphur limits in so-called special Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECA) to 0.1 percent by 2015 from the current 1.5 percent.

      Worldwide, excluding SECA, the sulphur content limit is 4.5 percent.

      The tightening is needed to curb toxic sulphur emissions along coastlines where they have been a major health hazard, especially in heavily populated areas.

      In the protected SECA zones, by 2010 sulphur will be limited to just 1 percent.

      Some two-thirds of the movements of the 50,000-strong merchant fleet, which carries 90 percent of the world's traded goods by volume, are in coastal areas.

      There are now only two SECA -- the North Sea and the Baltic -- but it is expected that European Union countries, the United States, Japan, Singapore and Australia will be declared SECA by 2015.

      In tandem with the SECA targets, the industry agreed to cut SO2 spewed out globally, including in the middle of the ocean, to 0.5 percent by 2025 from the current 4.5 percent.

      Bennett said that the ambitious targets, first formally aired in April, would probably cost the oil and shipping industry billions of dollars to implement.

      They could also raise the price of road transport fuels as the industry switches from heavy fuel oil to distillates.

      "The big question will be whether or not the oil refining industry will be able to deliver this new demand for distillate that is going to be created for shipping," Bennett said. (Reporting by Stefano Ambrogi; editing by Anthony Barker)

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      Maritime organization seeks to cut air pollution from oceangoing ships

      By Felicity Barringer Published: October 10, 2008

      The International Maritime Organization on Thursday adopted stringent new controls on airborne pollution from the world's 300,000 oceangoing vessels.
      Emissions from ships steaming into ports from Rotterdam to Shanghai to Long Beach, are blamed for about 60,000 premature deaths around the world annually.
      The new rules, which differ little from proposals the group approved in April, would cut the sulfur content of the fuels ships use in controlled areas along coasts by 63 percent as of July of 2010, and by more than 95 percent as of January 2015.
      Oceangoing ships are largely propelled by bunker fuel, which is one of the most cost-effective — it provides more energy per gallon than the distilled products used in other diesel and gasoline engines — and environmentally destructive fuels in use anywhere.
      Sulfur emissions are a major source of airborne fine particulates, which have been associated with pulmonary and cardiovascular disease. In some ports in Europe and in the United States, environmental groups, using the courts, and local governmental bodies have required ships to shut off their engines and plug in to the local electrical grid to keep ship operations functioning while in port.
      The international group approved the measure with little discussion late Thursday at its meeting in London, according to Janea Scott, a lawyer with the Environmental Defense Fund who attended the meeting. Scott spoke by telephone from London.
      Both shipping interests and environmental groups had been unsure if any major last-minute changes would be made, but with the exception of changes of a few months in two of the deadlines, the original proposals were approved.
      Now individual countries must set the boundaries of the so-called emission control areas in which the new, stringent fuel standards apply. This sets the stage for a renewed tug of war as environmental advocates are likely to seek to include as much of a country's offshore waters as possible in the emission control areas, while shipping interests are likely to call for far more limited boundaries.
      Andreas Chrysostomou, the chairman of the Marine Environment Protection Committee, hailed the decision as "an historical moment," Scott said.
      T. L. Garrett, vice president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, an industry trade group, said Thursday: "This is good news — we are fully supportive of this. We think the international approach that creates uniformity is the way to approach the issues."
      Scott of the Environmental Defense Fund said, "It's really impressive when 168 nations can come together and agree on protective measures for the environment." She added that the Environmental Protection Agency, which will propose the boundaries of the emission control areas, "should apply as soon as possible."
      In addition to setting limits for the offshore areas, the organization also cut the allowable standards for midocean operation. Currently, even though the average sulfur content of bunker fuel is about 27,000 parts per million, the rules allow fuel with up to 45,000 parts per million. This will be reduced to 35,000 parts per million in 2012 and to 5,000 parts per million in 2020, providing that a review demonstrates that there will be enough of the fuel available.
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