The next stage in China’s phased expansion of a 0.50% sulphur limit for ships operating within three domestic emission control areas (ECAs) will take effect at the start of 2017, when ships calling at 11 core ports will be required to switch to low sulphur fuels while at berth.
Chinese authorities have unilaterally decided to introduce ECAs in three coastal regions; the Pearl River Delta, the Yangtze River Delta and Bohai-rim waters.
11 key ports were identified within these three ECAs where the low sulphur requirement would take effect from 1 January 2017. They are Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Zhuhai, Shanghai, Ningbo-Zhoushan, Suzhou, Nantong, Tianjin, Qinhuangdao, Tangshan and Huanghua.
Several ports had already used provision allowing them to enforce the regulation before 1 January 2017. Ports in the Yangtze River Delta did so on 1 April 2016 (Shanghai, Ningbo-Zhoushan, Suzhou, and Nantong), followed by ports in the Pearl River Delta on 1 October 2016 (Shenzhen port including Yantian, Shekou, Chiwan, Mawan and Dachan Bay).
Under the Chinese requirement, ships must switch to compliant fuel within one hour of arriving at berth and continue to use it until not more than one hour prior to departure. Ships will be allowed to use alternative compliance methods such as exhaust gas cleaning systems or shore power.
From 1 January 2018 the at-berth low sulphur requirement will be extended to all ports located within the three Chinese ECAs.
From 1 January 2019, the 0.50% fuel sulphur limit will extend to ships operating within the designated ECAs and they will be required to make the fuel changeover prior to entry. The ECA boundaries have been clearly designated, mostly extending 12 nautical miles from shore.
Towards the end of 2019, the Chinese government is scheduled to determine if the fuel sulphur limit in its domestic ECAs should be reduced to 0.10%. This would bring the Chinese ECA requirements into line with MARPOL Annex VI, the International Maritime Organization regulation.
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