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IMO Regulations on Sulfur Oxides (SOx) Emissions- Prevention of Air Pollution

IMO Regulations Global Application- Timeline ,Regulation Reference, Enforcement Area, Impacted Operator, Detail of Restriction

The below is applies to all vessels except those equipped with abatement technology that limits Sulphur Oxide (SOx) emissions to the regulated levels.

MARPOL 73/78 Annex VI applies to all ships flying a flag of a country that has ratified MARPOL Annex VI or ships in territorial waters of such a country. No later than 2018, the IMO will review the feasibility of application of the lower sulphur limit, taking into account the considerations put forward by a panel of experts relating to market supply/demand scenarios, alternate date of application 2025

The Bunker Delivery Note (BDN) must mention the Sulfur content, grade of oil, IMO number of vessel, amongst other things and is required to be retained on board for 3 years.



The corresponding Fuel oil sample (called MARPOL sample) is to be retained on board for 1 year.

When the ships are within SECA (SOx Emission Control Area), the Sulfur content of any fuel oil should not exceed 1.5%.

Vessel is to maintain records of changeover calculation from normal to low sulfur fuel to prove that sufficient time had been allowed to flush the fuel oil systems of all fuels exceeding 1.5% sulfur content at the time of entry into SECA zone.

Local Air Emission Regulations (CARB): California (USA) has implemented local regulation covering their coastline out to 24 nm.

When vessel is in this area, its auxiliary diesel engine must operate on either Gas oil or Diesel oil with a sulfur content of less than 0.5%

From 1st January 2012, vessels coming into Turkish ports not permitted to use marine diesel with a sulphur content exceeding 0.1% by mass. Also, vessels with Turkish Flag can not use marine fuels whose sulphur content exceeds 1,5% in SOx Emission Detection Fields determined by IMO in accordance with Marpol Annex-VI. Likewise, Passenger Vessels sailing in Turkeys marine jurisdiction cannot use marine fuels whose Sulphur content exceeds 1.5% by mass.

No later than 2018, the IMO will review the feasibility of application of the lower sulphur limit, taking into account the considerations put forward by a panel of experts relating to market supply/demand scenarios, alternate date of application 2025

ECA enforcement

The US Environmental Enforcement Agency (EPA) has announced that it will hold trial of vessel fly-overs to monitorcompliance with MARPOL Annex VI. Initially undergoing trials in the upper Chesapeake Bay area, it is expected that the fly-over programme will be extended to include other areas which fall under the North America Emission Control Area (NA ECA). The fly-overs will be monitoring and testing emissions from vessels to ensure the fuel oil being used on board contains less than 1% maximum sulphur content, as required by the ECA.

The North American ECA has been in force since August 1, 2012. The maximum sulphur content permissible is to be reduced even further (to 0.1%) by January 1, 2015. The new fly-over trials support further targeting by EPA and USCG to ensure vessels are compliant with the MARPOL Annex VI rules as the one year anniversary of the ECA implementation approaches. Members are advised to ensure fuel oil changeover procedures are in place, and that proper records, logs and fuel sampling are being carried out on board.

Related articles

Other sources marine pollution by air:

Funnel Emissions

Nitrogen Oxides (NOx)Emissions

Use of Marine Incinerator

Cargo vapours, Ozone depleting substances, Co2 Emissions

Related topics:
  1. Marpol annex I - Preventing pollution by oil -Notes on Oily Water Separators


  2. Marpol Annex II -Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk


  3. Marpol annex III -Pollution by other harmful substances & harmful packaged goods


  4. Marpol annex IV - Prohibition on Sewage Discharge


  5. Marpol annex V - Pollution by garbage


  6. Marpol annex VI - Pollution by air


  7. Prohibition on use of harmful (TBT) anti-fouling paints


  8. Pollution by ballast water


  9. Prevention of pollution while carrying out overboard maintenance


  10. Environment friendly purchasing


  11. Environmental awareness


  12. Burning of heavy fuel oil & diesel oil - Environmental impacts





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