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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Why the regulators should mandate global use of MDO

Executive Summary

Key messages


·         The distillates option addresses the root cause of SOx/PM emissions and partially of NOx emissions


·         The distillates option improves operational efficiency and ship safety in ports


·         The distillates option brings shipping in line with the rest of the transportation industry (air, road, rail)


·         The distillates option is a truly international option that sets one global standard


·         In addition to cleaner air, distillates leads to cleaner seas


The Distillates Option


In response to the IMO’s initiative to revise MARPOL Annex VI on air emissions from ships, INTERTANKO recommends that SOx, NOx and  Particulate Matter (PM) emissions from ships can be further reduced by mandating the global use of Marine Diesel Oil (MDO) and including a specification for this fuel in the revised MARPOL Annex VI regulations. INTERTANKO further suggests that the specification of the mandated fuel should be a slightly modified specification for the ISO 8217 DMB grade, with an initial sulphur content of maximum 1.0% with a later reduction to 0.50% subject to product availability. This may be summarised as the Distillates Option.


Furthermore INTERTANKO recommends a mandatory global low sulphur cap on the fuel used by ships which removes the need of SECAs.  This will ease implementation, bring global uniformity to the regulations, promote safety, efficiency and simplicity to ship operations, and bring a straight-forward element to law enforcement and monitoring.




INTERTANKO represents the interests of its members in the Annex VI revision discussion. The regulatory requirement for cleaner ships will soon be forced on the shipping industry if, collectively, the industry does not take a strong, proactive position. 


The distillate solution does exactly this by solving the root cause of the problem rather than trying only to reduce the effect of the problem.


INTERTANKO is truly representing what is best for the environment as a whole.

1 Environment = 1 Solution.


The mandatory global use of a low sulphur MDO/DMB grade is a simple, straightforward and realistic requirement which would ensure:


          A long-term and positive reduction of air emissions (SOx, PM, NOx) from ships

          The overall environmental impact for across-the-board emissions reductions is better than that of any of the current alternative measures

          The saving of CO2 emissions by eliminating shipboard HFO treatment and scrubber operation, which would counterbalance CO2 emissions from refineries for extra distillate production

          The prevention of fragmented regulations (a global standard for deep sea, coastal and at berth vessels)

          A long-term and predictable regulatory regime with simpler and more workable monitoring and control procedures

          A solid platform of requirements through international IMO standards

          Safer and simpler ship operations with few and manageable technical modifications

          A better work environment for crews

          A reduction in waste materials, for the disposal of which the ship owner is responsible

          The removal of quality problems with residual fuels

          Coastal/sea pollution from MDO bunker spills is significantly less harmful and easier to clean up than fuel oil


Based on all the advantages presented, INTERTANKO believes the best solution is a global mandate for a specifically-defined low sulphur marine distillate fuel to achieve significant reductions in air emissions.  This will, at the same time, open up opportunities for engine manufacturers to find innovative, simple and efficient solutions for further reductions of air emissions from ships, including CO2 emissions.


INTERTANKO believes the best and safest practices and policies are those where each industry is required to do what it is designed and expected to do.


The refining industry should provide efficient and clean low-sulphur marine fuels.

The shipping industry should concentrate on safe and efficient transportation operations. The engine manufacturing industry should then develop efficient technologies to improve ships’ energy efficiency.


Shipping should not concentrate on treating residual fuels to make them fit for use and then purifying the emissions. Using ships as waste management plants is an obstacle to innovation that could achieve further reductions of air emissions from ships and further increases in ships’ energy efficiency, including reduction of CO2 emissions.


  • The use of MDO will be part of a holistic set of measures to reduce air emissions from ships.
  • The use of MDO offers a common-sense, immediate and global opportunity to significantly reduce emissions from ships.
  • The use of MDO facilitates innovation and the use of sophisticated technologies for further and future emission reductions from ships.
  • The use of MDO will align shipping with other means of transportation.


24 January, 2008.



Key questions: (with responses and INTERTANKO’s conclusions)

- Would a mandatory global low sulphur cap work?

- What are the advantages of the Distillates Option?

- What are the alternatives to the Distillates Option?

- How can these benefits/advantages of using MDO be demonstrated? 

    * Environmental advantages

    * Safety benefits

    * Advantages for rule enforcement and rule monitoring

    * Technical advantages

    * Operational benefits

    * Better marine fuel quality


Click here for key questions and answers



A number of additional questions: (with answers and conclusions)

- What is the availability of marine distillates fuels and of abatement technology?

- What are the cost implications to refineries and to ship owners?

- How are CO2 emissions from refineries related to the production of additional   

    volumes of marine distillate fuels?


Click here for additional questions and answers



Click here for full paper ‘Why the regulators should mandate global use of MDO’



INTERTANKO Contacts for any more questions:


Peter Swift, Managing Director  +44 20 7977 7010


Joe Angelo, Deputy Managing Director +1 703 373 2269


Dragos Rauta, Technical Director  +47 22 122 650


Bill Box, Communications and Public Relations Manager +44 20 7977 7023