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In 2008, the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) agreed on the progressive reduction of maximum Sulphur content in the fuel used onboard. On January 1, 2015 the limit applicable in Emission Control Areas (ECA's) was reduced to 0.1%.

Already on January 1, 2010, the EU implemented the requirement that ships may only burn fuel of 0.1% sulphur content or less when they are inside EU ports or within EU inland waterways.


On July 1, 2010 this requirement was extended offshore into ECA's, which include the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.

*ECA's include the Baltic and North seas, the English Channel and the US and Canadian coast and inland waters.

*MARPOL Annex VI sets limits on Sulphur Oxide and Nitrogen Oxide emissions from the ship exhaust and prohibits deliberate emissions of ozone depleting substances. It also contains provisions allowing special SOx Emission Control Areas (SECAS) to be established with more stringent controls on sulphur emissions.


MARPOL Annex VI progressively reduces the allowed sulphur content of marine fuels.


From January 2020 there will be a global cap of 0.5%S, while a 0.1%S limit already exists in today’s ECA areas.

The aim is to keep harmful sulphur oxides (SO2 and SO3) and particulate matter (PM) from being released into the air. This is why IMO allows higher-sulphur fuels to be used with SOx scrubbers, which achieve the same result by cleaning the exhaust gas.

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