Air Emission Regulations – Update from IMO developments this week

The IMO Bulk Liquid and Gases Sub-Committee’s 10th session (BLG 10) has initiated discussions on revising MARPOL Annex VI with the aim to reduce the current emission limits (SOx and NOx) and to consider adding limitations on emissions of particulate matters (PM). The IMO plans to finalise this work on a very tight time frame and therefore two correspondence groups have been established; one to consider amendments to the current Annex VI regulation and another one to consider changes to the NOx Technical Code, as well as additional measures to reduce Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) using technologies such as the INTERTANKO VOCON operational procedure.

To progress the work, it was agreed that the Working Group on Air Emissions will have an Intersessional meeting in Oslo between 13-17 November 2006.

This week in IMO, the Working Group began the dialogue on the basic factual and structural issues that would enable Administrations and NGOs to better formulate their views on what amendments may be appropriate and how to best structure any new standards developed as a result of the present review. To facilitate further discussion by the correspondence groups, the Working Group has developed three tables that provide indicative values describing the range of NOx reduction possible (when compared to the present NOx limits contained in MARPOL Annex VI), fuel requirements, fuel consumption effects and other complications or uncertainties associated with a given technology. The three tables address (a) 2-stroke slow-speed engines; (b) 4-stroke, residual fuel engines and (c) 4-stroke engines using distillate fuels (i.e. smaller engines such as auxiliaries). Click here for a copy of the draft tables (these might be amended further during the correspondence work).   It is important to understand that the data in these tables reflects a range of professional opinion and are indicative values only.

The Working Group seemed in agreement that year 2010 would generally represent the earliest date appropriate for implementation of new standards. As far as new NOx emission standards are concerned, the Working Group also seemed to agree on a two-step approach with an initial set of in-engine modifications for engines installed on ships from 2010 and a second step of measures for engines installed on ships from 2014 or 2015. At INTERTANKO’s request, the Chairman of the Working Group made it clear that in the case of such a two-step approach, the measures of the second step would not be retroactively applied to the engines complying with the standards set up in the first step.

The Working Group also discussed whether the existing engines should be subject to some sort of modifications to further reduce their NOx emissions. There is no clear cut result on the discussions but one thing was clearly indicated, namely to undertake a cost-benefit assessment of each measure that might be proposed.

Contact: Dragos Rauta