The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), in the context of its 65th session, considered and agreed to proposed draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI regulation 13 on Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), to amend the date for the implementation of “Tier III” standards within emission control areas (ECAs) to 1 January 2021, from the current effective date of 1 January 2016. The draft amendments will be circulated for consideration at MEPC 66 in 2014, with a view to adoption.
NOx control requirements apply to installed marine diesel engines of over 130 kW output power, and different levels (Tiers) of control apply based on the ship construction date. Tier III controls apply only to specified ships while operating in ECAs designated to limit NOx emissions (currently the North American Emission Control Area and the United States Caribbean Sea Area). Outside such areas, “Tier II” controls apply.
Regulation 13.10 of MARPOL Annex VI called for a review of the status of technological developments to implement the 2016 Tier III NOx emission limits. The review was to be completed by 2013.
Had Tier III controls been implemented, by 2015 operators would have had to choose between installing exhaust gas cleaning systems known as scrubbers or switching to low sulphur fuel for all ships operating in an ECA. Use of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), for example, is a solution that has virtually no sulphur content and its combustion produces low NOx compared to fuel oil and marine diesel oil.
A DieselNet article says that a report from the MEPC Correspondence Group tabled at the 65th session meeting, considered the technologies needed to meet Tier III NOx standards to be available and recommended that the effective date of the Tier III NOx standards in regulations 13.2.2 and 13.5.1. of MARPOL Annex VI should be retained.
However, according to PortNews, a Russian-led delegation successfully argued that the only technology available in the market today among those ensuring implementation of the required standards (SCR-technology based on urea-water solutions) has essential drawbacks.
DieselNet explains draft amendments will be sent to contracting governments for consideration and then submitted to MEPC 66 in 2014, with a view to adoption. A number of delegations strongly opposed the decision and reserved their position so the decision is likely to meet strong opposition. Opposing groups may also seek alternative measures for adoption of standards earlier than the proposed 2021 implementation, to take advantage of current investment in new-technology developments and shipbuilding, including LNG-fuelled ships.
A DNV report Shipping 2020 projects more than 1 in 10 newbuildings in the next 10 years will be delivered with liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuelled engines, more if the price differential between HFO (heavy fuel oil) and LNG increases. “If the LNG price goes down to 30% below HFO, the uptake of LNG increases to 13% and, in the extreme case of LNG price 70% below HFO, the LNG share of newbuildings is 30 percent. In total numbers, 13% is equivalent to approximately 1,000 ships.”
(Primary Source: IMO/MEPC)