Mombasa port joins move to enforce low sulphur fuel use

The port of Mombasa in Kenya will, starting this month, join other ports around the world in implementing the new International Maritime Organisation (IMO) global sulphur cap 2020 rule, which came into force on January 1.

The rule will see the use of low sulphur fuel by all seagoing vessels as part of global effort to reduce air pollution by cutting sulphur oxide emissions.

Mombasa-based Alba Petroleum and Alfoss Energy Ltd, contracted last December, have now been licensed to fuel with 0.5 per cent sulphur content compared with the previous limit of 3.5 per cent, for ships docking at the facility

Kenya Maritime Authority’s (KMA) director general Maj (Rtd) George Okong’o said as regulators, they would also conduct random inspections of all ships docking at the port to ensure compliance.

“The process of implementing the new law started after the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL Convention) was adopted in 1997 and reviewed in 2012 to address pollution from ships. This a global law and we shall ensure all vessels comply,” he said.

The law affects all ship operators, oil refiners and bunker suppliers. He said the international convention for the prevention of pollution from ships is meant to cut sulphur-oxide emissions from ships by 77 per cent, which will be an annual reduction of about 8.5 million tonnes.

The regulation has been welcomed by the International Chamber of Ships and it has already shared a comprehensive guideline with different stakeholders for compliance.

In the MARPOL regulations, all ships of 400 gross tonnage and above engaged in voyages to ports or offshore terminals under the jurisdiction of other parties have to have an International Air Pollution Prevention Certificate, issued by the ship’s flag State. To get the certificate, ships need to use low sulphur fuel oil to meet IMO requirements while refineries may blend fuel oil with a high (non-compliant) sulphur content with fuel oil with a sulphur content lower than the required sulphur content to achieve a compliant fuel oil.

IMO regulations to reduce sulphur oxide emissions from ships first came into force in 2005, under Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. Limiting sulphur emission by ships will improve air quality and protect the environment as sulphur oxide is harmful to humans and to the marine ecosystem.