South Korea to implement first stage of 0.10% sulphur ECAs

Ships anchoring or mooring in SOx emission control areas (ECAs) that have been designated around major ports in South Korea will be required to use fuels with no more than 0.10% sulphur content as of 1 September, 2020.

The regulation, announced by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries in the Republic of Korea, is in accordance with Article 10(1) of the Areas Special Act on the Improvement of Air Quality in Port, according to information IBIA has received from the Korean Register (KR).

The requirement will initially apply only while ships are anchored or moored, but from 1 January 2022, ships will be required to use fuels with no more than 0.10% sulphur when navigating in the designated ECAs. The first stage of the regulation is similar to the requirement for ships in the European Union to observe a 0.10% sulphur limit at berth, and various requirements are in line with MARPOL Annex VI.

The key parts of the regulation are as follows:

1) From 1 September 2020, ships at berth or at anchor in the designated South Korean ECAs will be required to use fuel with a maximum sulphur content of 0.10 %. The changeover to compliant fuel oil must be completed within 1 hour after anchoring or mooring. Ships must continue using compliant fuel up to 1 hour before leaving.

2) From 1 January 2022, ships should have completed the changeover to maximum 0.10% sulphur fuel at the entrance to the designated South Korean ECAs and will be required to use compliant fuel while inside ECA.

3) The use of Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS) to achieve equivalence with a 0.10% sulphur standard is allowed, provided the EGCS meets the standards prescribed by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. The information provided by KR says there is no restrictions on washwater for open-loop scrubbers.

Ships will be required to have a written fuel changeover procedure and keep accurate records in the engine room logbook. They will also need to provide other relevant documentation regarding the sulphur content of fuels onboard, and relevant documentation for their EGCS if using scrubbers to comply.

Violations for exceeding the sulphur limit will be punishable by imprisonment for up to one year or by a fine of up to 10 million won (almost US$8,500 at current exchange rates). Failure to keep correct records in the engine room logbook or fuel oil changeover procedures are subject to smaller administrative fines. 

The ECAs will apply in the port areas and nearby sea areas of the following ports:

-Incheon (including Kyongin) and Pyeongtaek·Dangjin ports area

-Yeosu and Gwangyang (including Hadong) ports area

-Busan port area and Western Area of Busan Port

-Ulsan port area

Below is a map, courtesy of KR, showing the geographic ECAs.

ECAs in Korea. Image courtesy of KR
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