Enforcing the regs

20 Feb 2015
Netherlands-based BigLift Shipping is a key industry player signed up to the Trident Alliance

Netherlands-based BigLift Shipping is a key industry player signed up to the Trident Alliance

The new sulphur emission regulations for ships have been a hotly contended issue from the start but now debate has moved to their implementation, or more accurately, enforcing compliance. The enforcement of these regulations will be the driver of change, not the regulations themselves, according to Europort 2015.

Europort envisages opportunities for innovation not just in relation to the technologies employed in order to be compliant but also in relation to enforcement. Imaginative tools for detection abound, ranging from technology on vessels to ‘sniff out’ the use of heavy fuel oil to unmanned drones with emission sensors.

Shipowners and operators should be deciding on which strategy to embrace for compliance not deciding whether or not to comply. However, inconsistent and weak rule enforcement, together with the prospect of potential punishments that are often insignificant, can create a ‘cost differential’ that amounts to a temptation not to comply at all.

Industry analyst SeaIntel recently revealed in a survey: “Our analysis showed that a 4,500 teu vessel sailing at 16 knots from the entrance of the Channel to Hamburg, using 1% sulphur fuel instead of the mandated 0.1%, would save EUR12,000 – six times more than the German fine, and that is just one way.”

However, failure to ensure uniform compliance with the sulphur emission limits will significantly distort the competition between shipowners globally, as it will not be sustainable for a compliant ship to compete with another ship operating in noncompliance. A level playing field is commercially critical for owners and without it there is a danger of a two-tier market developing. This would not be beneficial to the industry as a whole in the long-term; nor is it conducive to technological advancement.

Europort, in line with its position of supporting innovation and pioneering measures in relation to ship efficiency, is endorsing a responsible industry that looks to mitigate this risk by forming a coalition of shipowners and operators who share the common interest in consistent and robust enforcement of maritime sulphur regulations. The Trident Alliance is mainly focused on raising awareness of the issue, supported by member companies’ transparency on enforcement, as well as on initiatives to foster innovation in enforcement technology.

The Alliance has attracted some 31 member companies to date, including leading Dutch ship owners Spliethoff, Transfennica and Biglift.

By Jake Frith

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