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Press release - Impacts of marine fuel sulphur limits North- and Baltic Sea

20/04/2016 - Since 1 January 2015, the maximum sulphur content of marine fuels used in the North- and Baltic Sea (Sulphur Emission Control Area) is reduced from 1.0%  to 0.1%. Before implementation, the reduction of the SECA fuel sulphur content led to discussions about the availability of marine gasoil (MGO) economic impacts and the need for effective compliance and enforcement. The objective of the CE Delft study SECA Assessment: Impacts of 2015 SECA marine fuel sulphur limits, commissioned by the German NGO NABU, is to present an ex-post assessment showing the first experiences under the 0.1% fuel sulphur regime, focussing on the elements mentioned above.

Air quality and socio economic benefits
The available studies show a noticeable improvement of the air quality in port areas and along coast lines in 2015, compared to the year before. Sulphur concentration reductions of 50% and more have been reported. The health benefits resulting from the air quality improvements range between 4.4 and 8.0 billion euros. The additional fuel costs for the maritime sector of the use 0.1% marine gasoil (MGO) in the North and Baltic Sea have been quantified at 2.3 billion euros. So, the health benefits due to lower emissions of SO2 and PM are 1.9 to 3.5 times higher than the increase in fuel cost. This shows that the benefits of the introduction of the new regulations have outweighed the costs of that policy.

Fuel availability, economic impacts and modal shift
The availability of MGO has proven to be sufficient. While it was estimated that a fuel shortage would result in an increase of the MGO price, the opposite occurred mainly as the result of reduced oil prices. No significant shifts towards road transport have been found so far for RoRo transport, which is deemed to be most sensitive market segment for modal shifting. Also, no company or even service shutdowns, nor any decrease in cargo turnover in Northern European ports, that can be clearly linked to the introduction of the 0.1%S sulphur cap, have been found.

It should be noted, however, that with increasing oil prices the situation might worsen as RoRo transport is relatively more sensitive to fuel price increases than truck transport.

Compliance, enforcement and surveillance
The first year of the 0.1% sulphur SECA regulation has shown that in ports, where the controls are performed, a large majority of ships use a fuel that is compliant or within the accuracy margin used by European inspectorates. According to EMSA data, between 3 and 9% of the ships are non-compliant in the Baltic Sea and North Sea ports respectively. Figures on the compliance on open sea are rather scarce, while experts illustrated the risk of non-compliance on open sea, because of the large economic benefits. It is recommended to further develop monitoring and control techniques, including (remote) control on open seas, to increase the monitoring system. This will contribute to the effectiveness of the inspection regime.
Press release in Word.


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