Published amendments to EU Directive on Sulphur Content in Marine Fuel 1999/32

On 26 July 2005 the published amendments to the original EU Directive on Sulphur Content in Marine Fuel 1999/32/EC came into force. These amendments, which have been long in the creation and are now in the form of Directive 2005/33/EC, make significant changes to the current Directive that is in force and correct the earlier misunderstandings for shipboard operations contained in the original Directive. 

The “new” requirements impact all bunker fuels, not only “Marine Gas Oils”, and align themselves, in part, with the relevant International Regulations, namely MARPOL Annex VI Regulation 14. 

Click here for the full Directive containing the amendments,which can be summarised as follows: 

Article 1 – This article has been substantially amended to extend its application to include all marine fuels but allowing certain exceptions such as for those ships using “abatement technologies” and for the securing of the safety of the ship and saving of life at sea. 

Article 2 – This article has an increased number of definitions such that, for example, for the purposes of the new requirements the ISO 8217 grades of DMB and DMC now become Marine Diesel Oils whereas DMA and DMX are Marine Gas Oils. This subdivision of fuel types releases the strict sulphur content requirements from all the distillate fuel types in the original Directive. 

Article 2 now contains a definition for “ships at berth”. The definition states that such ships “are securely moored or anchored in a Community port while they are loading, unloading or hotelling, including the time spent when not engaged in cargo operations”. This definition could create difficulties in the future when, for the purposes of the requirements, the scope or limits of a CommunityPort are not defined. 

Article 4 – this article is now subdivided into four sets of requirements namely Article 4, 4a, 4b and 4c. The existing article 4 has been substantially amended but these amendments have an application date attached. For example, the existing paragraphs 1 and 2 of this article are not to be deleted until 1 January 2010. Therefore, the current requirement for use of 0.2% sulphur content of marine diesel oil and marine gas oil will still be valid until the end of 2009. On the other hand, 3 and 4, which have limited impact on vessel’s operations, are to be deleted on 11 August 2005. 

Article 4a incorporates the requirements of Regulation 14 of MARPOL Annex VI into the Directive with regard to ship operation within a Sulphur Emission Control Area (SECA). 

Article 4b introduces the concept of “Ships at berth” and applies a strict control of the sulphur content of fuel to be used whilst a ship is at berth. However, this requirement does not come into force until 1 January 2010 and therefore aligns itself with the current requirements of Article 4 for paragraphs 1 and 2, which will remain in force until that date. 

Article 4c allows the use of “new emission abatement technologies” provided that the European Commission and port State are notified six months before the trials begin. 

Contact: Timothy Gunner