The International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) new 0.5% limit for sulfur in marine fuel comes into effect from 1st January 2020. As the deadline approaches, the IMO’s focus has shifted to enforcement, with the topic taking centre stage. During a recent session, a new amendment to the regulations was agreed, prohibiting vessels without a scrubber from carrying fuel with greater than 0.5% sulfur from 2020.
In addition, the existing Emission Control Areas (ECAs), set up in 2015, could soon be extended to include the Mediterranean, Australian and Japanese waters, the Scandinavian coastline and the coasts of Mexico. In ECA waters, ships cannot burn fuel with more than 0.1% sulfur content. The penalties for not complying are down to the individual State Party.
As the regulations are improved, several challenges are arising for ship and port operators. Low sulfur fuel will lead to an unavoidable increase in fuel costs, due to the high cost of the desulfurisation process. With fuel prices set to jump considerably, ship owners will want to be sure they are getting the low sulfur levels they have paid for.
Meanwhile, compliance and enforcement of the 0.5% sulfur limit means that reliable methods of testing oil samples will be required on vessels, portside and for mobile testing units set up by IMO member states. Port authorities could use surveillance, for example air surveillance to assess smoke plumes, and other techniques to identify potential violations. However, this is costly and dependent on weather and other factors.
With the right analysis equipment, ship operators can make sure the fuel they take on-board meets regulations and that they switch to lower sulfur fuel when entering an ECA, thus avoiding hefty penalties for non-compliance. Authorities meanwhile will need accurate equipment to pass or fail vessels (at port and at sea) based on the fuel they’re burning, in order to enforce the new rules.
At Hitachi High-Tech, we’ve got two ideal options for shipping companies working to comply with the regulations, and for authorities wishing to enforce them from ship to ship, in port or at sea.
A new portable solution – We’ve launched a new X-MET8000 Optimum package, tailored to meet the needs of mobile maritime fuel testing. The X-MET8000 is a handheld X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyser that delivers test results in seconds. Supplied in a robust carry case, it comes with all the accessories needed for truly portable sulfur analysis. This includes a brand new small sample tray to keep the cup and safety window stable during the analysis. With a 12-hour battery life, the X-MET is perfect when you need to measure fuel samples quickly in multiple locations.
Benchtop solution – The LAB-X5000 is a small benchtop analyser that also uses energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence – a very reliable technology that can identify the elemental composition of a range of substances. This rugged unit is built to withstand industrial conditions, but has a compact footprint making it ideal for on-board thanks to its stability or land-based testing labs. For over 40 years, LAB-X products have been relied on in the industry for fuel analysis.
The LAB-X5000 and X-MET8000 Optimum are both pre-calibrated to measure sulfur content from 0-5% m/m, require minimal user training, and comply with ASTM D4294, IP336 and ISO8754 sulfur test standards. There is no Helium gas purge required (they automatically compensate for pressure and temperature variations), and it’s easy to export multiple test results from both devices. Each is a dependable solution on its own, though many organisations use them in tandem – the LAB-X5000 in the laboratory and the X-MET8000 in the field.
To find our more about our products for marine fuels, download our product overview.