New fuel rules: Marine industry to transition to low sulphur fuel by 2020
- 23 May 2019
Reducing carbon emissions is a noble goal to help reduce the impact of climate change, and it’s one that needs the backing of scientific development and government support to make happen in an effective manner.
The Australian government has recently set down new standards for the amount of sulphur found in fuel used in the maritime industry, to be enacted by the start of 2020. This follows a ruling from the International Maritime Organization made in 2016, that says that the diesel fuel that ships use can contain no more than 0.5% sulphur oxide. This is a dramatic decrease from the previous standard, which was 3.5%.
Why Sulphur Oxide matters
Sulphur Oxide emissions have a major impact on the environment. It’s listed as one of the major contributors to producing acid rain, which has a significant effect to crops, livestock and people’s health, even if they’re located far away from the coastline near shipping routes. Millions of people are affected by air pollution on a small scale, but the costs to health add up.
As demand for shipping increases as world markets rely on ships to carry their goods between countries, the amount of diesel fuel used by ships rises. While ships are, per kilogram of cargo carried, the most energy-efficient mode of transport around, their 100,000 horsepower engines need a lot of fuel to traverse huge distances. They’re powered by diesel engines that are a lot more powerful than the ones found in domestic vehicles or even the most resource-hungry mining site.
The Future of Shipping
The target is clear, so shipping companies must prepare their fleet to meet them before the start of next year. There’s many different ways to go about solving this problem.
The first is that they simply change the fuel supply they are using to one with a strictly controlled sulphur component. Clean diesel fuel suppliers have known about the upcoming changes for over ten years now and are ready to take low-sulphur solutions to the market.
Vessel operators will also need to clean their tanks, pipes and pumps before using fuel that is compliant with 2020 regulations. It’s estimated that this conversion process takes about six months. A quicker alternative is to install a “scrubber”, which sits in the exhaust system and filters out air pollutants as they’re expelled out of the engine and boiler exhaust pipes. This will allow existing ships to use 3.5% sulphur oil in certain territories but is not a viable long-term solution.
Alternatively, they could switch to different fuel supplies which do not have a sulphur component such as liquefied natural gas or biofuels. There is a lot of work to be done in this sector as new fuel types are refined and compete for market share.
At Bulk Fuel Australia we work diligently to ensure that the quality of the diesel fuel we supply the maritime industry - as well as every other industry that operates around Australia - will be of the highest quality available. Talk to Bulk Fuel Australia today to see our clean fuel solutions, including Final Filtered Diesel and how it improves fuel efficiencies.