China Ministry of Transport

China Unveils Port Low-Sulfur Fuel Plan

December 11, 2015 in LNG, Marine, Regulations by Rich Kassel  |  No Comments

New 0.5% Sulfur Limit to Be Effective January 2017,
For Ships at-Berth, Extending to 12-Mile Limit by 2019,
There Is No Mandate for LNG But Plenty of Opportunity

China’s Ministry of Transport has unveiled a multi-step plan to introduce cleaner marine fuels to reduce ship emissions at its ports and along its coasts. The MoT framework of ECZs – Emission Control Zones – is an important advance for clean air and for cleaner ships.

The plan affects seven of the world’s ten largest ports. As such it presents a significant opportunity for advocates of LNG-fueled shipping in the Far East.

Three Discrete ECZs

The three affected regions are the Bohai Sea (encompassing the ports of Tianjin, Qinhuangdao, Tangshan and Huanghua serving Beijing), The Yangtze River Delta (the ports of Ningbo-Zhoushan, Suzhou and Nantong serving Shanghai) and the Pearl River Delta (Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Guangzhou with Hong Kong Macau to be separately negotiated).

The three new Emission Control Zones as outlined by China's Ministry of Transport.

The three new Emission Control Zones as outlined by China’s Ministry of Transport. Map courtesy MoT-affiliated Waterborne Transport Research Institute via Natural Resources Defense Council.

Beginning on January 1, 2017, ships calling at the core ports will be required to use fuel with no more than 0.5% sulfur while at berth. On January 1, 2018, the low-sulfur fuel will be mandatory for ships at berth at all of the ports within the three ECZs – Emission Control Zones.

All vessels operating within 12 miles of the coastlines in the ECZs will be required to use the 0.5% sulfur fuel starting January 1, 2019.

MoT notes that shore power, exhaust gas cleaning systems, such as scrubbers, “clean energy” – liquefied natural gas – can be deployed to meet the fuel switching requirement, as long as such measures can achieve equivalent results.

‘China Is Serious’

“The plan marks a key milestone in controlling shipping emissions in China,” Natural Resources Defense Council senior attorney and Asia director Barbara Finamore says in a recent blog post.

“This is a major step forward because this fuel will contain 80% less sulfur than the average sulfur content in marine fuel being used today,” she said.

NRDC worked with the Chinese Waterborne Transport Institute of MoT to help advance the ECZ proposal.

“We commend China for taking this significant step,” Finamore said. “It shows China is serious about implementing its amended Air Pollution Prevention and Control Law, which provides a clear legal mandate for MoT to set more stringent air pollution requirements for key port regions by designating them as special Emission Control Zones.”

Qingdao and Xiamen Not Covered

NRDC and fellow environmental advocates would like to see the sulfur limit reduced to 0.1% and the ECZ extended along the entire China coast to encompass such major ports as Qingdao (south of the Bohai Sea ECZ) and Xiamen (on the Taiwan Strait) that are not covered by the new directive.

Finamore notes that the MoT plan requires a review by the end of 2019 to determine if stricter fuel quality requirements should be imposed going forward. The options being considered include further tightening the fuel sulfur standard to 0.1% – matching the European, North American and Caribbean ECA limit – and expanding the coverage of the ECZs.

“Because almost all marine fuels with 0.1% sulfur content are distillate, which burns better than the residual fuel being used today on international ships, this action would also cut down the emissions of black carbon,” she said.

Military, sport and fishing vessels are exempt from the new ECZ limits.

The Ministry of Transport plan may be viewed here (Chinese language website).

New York City-based Rich Kassel is senior VP of HHP Insight publisher GNA – Gladstein, Neandross & Associates. Since 2012, he has provided technical and policy support to NRDC’s ports work in China.

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Source: China MoT via NRDC with HHP Insight follow-up



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