European Union Sulphur Directive
Directive (EU) 2016/802 of the European Parliament and of the Council relating to a reduction in the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels, published May 2016, consolidates and replaces a number of European regulations and directives on the sulphur content of marine fuels and the use of EGCS as an alternative method of compliance.
EU Member States are required to take all necessary measures to ensure that marine fuels are not used in their territorial seas, exclusive economic zones and pollution control zones outside of the Baltic and North Sea ECA’s if the sulphur content of those fuels by mass exceeds:
- 3.50 % as from 18 June 2014;
- 0.50 % as from 1 January 2020
In areas of their territorial seas, exclusive economic zones and pollution control zones that fall within the Baltic and North Sea ECA’s the maximum allowable sulphur content of marine fuel is:
- 0.10% as from 1 January 2015
While this is in line with MARPOL Annex VI regulation 14, the EU Directive differs in some key areas:
The maximum allowable sulphur content of marine fuel used by passenger ships operating on regular services to or from any Union port while in EU territorial seas, exclusive economic zones and pollution control zones outside of the Baltic and North Sea ECA’s is:
- 1.50 % by mass until 1 January 2020
European Union ports
The maximum allowable sulphur content of marine fuel used by ships at berth in Union ports is
- 0.10 % by mass
The fuel changeover operation should be as soon as possible after arrival at berth and as late as possible before departure.
The sulphur limit does not apply if:
- Ships are due to be at berth for less than two hours, according to published timetables; or
- Ships switch off all engines and use shore-side electricity while at berth in ports.
Exhaust gas cleaning systems
The Directive allows the use of EGCS as an alternative method of compliance if approved as per IMO Guidelines i.e. MEPC.259(68) or the EU Marine Equipment Directive or in an approved trial.
However, the maximum allowable fuel sulphur content is 3.50% unless the scrubber system is operating in closed loop mode. This differs from MARPOL Annex VI, which does not prescribe the operating mode that must be used for fuels with a sulphur content above the current global limit.
Note: there are currently 28 EU member states (click for more details); coasts border the Atlantic, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, Mediterranean and North Sea
Contact details for European maritime administrations can be found here at the EMSA website (EMSA, the European Maritime Safety Agency, is responsible for development and implementation of EU legislation on maritime safety, pollution by ships and maritime security) and here in a document published by the European Commission.