OCEANGOING vessels docked in Hong Kong must use low-sulphur fuel after July 1 fuel or face fines and/or jail, warns the Environmental Protection Department.
This is expected to divert cargo ships to Shenzhen terminals of Shekou, Chiwan, Da Chan Bay, Yantian and even Guanzhou's terminal at Nansha, where the fuel rule does not apply.
Mitigating the bad news is the plunge in oil prices in the last eight months. Crude fell 50 per cent in January, thus softening the blow of the extra 50 per cent cost increase that low sulphur fuel imposes - at least until oil prices rise.
The department unveiled details of the new low sulphur fuel regulations to ensure reduced ship emissions and improved air quality in local communities.
Known as the Air Pollution Control (Ocean Going Vessels) (Fuel at Berth) Regulation, vessels will be required to use bunkers with a sulphur content no greater than 0.5 per cent while berthed.
Ships will also be allowed to use LNG and other fuels approved by the Director of Environmental Protection, or use gas scrubbers to ensure the low sulphur requirement is met.
After July 1, masters and owners of deepsea failing to meet the requirement are liable for HK$200,000 (US$25,000) of six months imprisonment.
Masters and shipowners who fail to record or keep the required particulars will also be liable to a maximum fine of HK$50,000 and three months, the department warned.
Hong Kong eco lobby Civic Exchange has campaigned for the harsh regulatory measure. "Civic Exchange congratulates the government for taking the right step to control ship emissions," said the group's press release.
Source : HKSG.