Hong Kong Sulphur Switch Enters into Force Tomorrow

As of tomorrow, July 1st, ocean-going vessels are required to switch to clean fuel while berthing in Hong Kong.

The switch comes as Hong Kong comes to grips with air pollution caused by container vessels to the surrounding areas, especially in the vicinity of the the Kwai Chung Container Terminals (KCCT).

Under the Air Pollution Control Regulation, the sulphur content of compliant low-sulphur fuel to be used by ocean going vessels (OGVs) while at berth in Hong Kong should not exceed 0.5 per cent. It also allows OGVs to use liquefied natural gas and any other fuel that can achieve the reduction of emissions of sulphur dioxide (SO2) at least as effectively as the use of low-sulphur fuel.

If an OGV uses technology that can achieve the same or less emissions of SO2 when compared with low-sulphur marine fuel, the Director of Environmental Protection may exempt it from switching to compliant fuel while at berth.

The Regulation requires an OGV to use compliant fuel while berthing except during the first hour after arrival and the last hour before departure; record the date and time of its arrival and departure and the fuel switch operation; and keep on board for three years the relevant records and bunker delivery notes.

The master and owner of any OGV using non-compliant fuel will be liable to a maximum fine of $200,000 and imprisonment for six months. Those failing to record or keep the required particulars will also be liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for three months.

The SO2 emissions of an OGV at berth account for about 40 per cent of the OGV’s total SO2 emissions during its stay in Hong Kong. With the introduction of the Regulation, emissions of SO2 and respirable suspended particulates from OGVs while berthing are expected to be cut by more than 60 per cent, thus contributing to the improvement of Hong Kong’s air quality and a reduction of associated health risks.

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