Yangtze ECA to require 0.5%S fuel use at all times from October

New rules set to be implemented three months early.

Image credit: Pixabay CC0

Updated on 05 Sep 2018 00:07 GMT

The Maritime Safety Administrations (MSA) of Shanghai and Zhejiang have issued notices on the requirements to use fuel with a maximum fuel sulphur content of 0.5 percent at all times within the Yangtze River Delta Emission Control Area (ECA) from next month.

Starting from October 1, 2018, ships are to use fuel with a sulphur content of no more than 0.5 percent when entering into the Yangtze River Delta ECA and when at any berth or anchorage. It means that vessels must switch over to compliant fuel in sufficient time before entering the ECA.

Currently, and since January, vessels at berth in any port within this ECA are required to use fuel with a maximum sulphur content of 0.5% - except one hour after arrival and one hour before departure.

The changes in requirements where compliant fuel must be used at all times within the ECA represent an early adoption of a standard that was not expected to enter into force until January 1, 2019.

Vessels may use scrubbers to meet the new rules, whilst ships equipped to receive shore power are advised to connect to shore power when berthing in Shanghai at a terminal equipped with cold ironing facilities.

Ships berthing at Ningbo-Zhoushan and Jiaxing are to prioritize using shore power 'if the condition allows'.

Vessels will need to apply in advance to the appropriate regional MSA for any exemptions on using non-compliant fuel.

The key Yangtze River Delta ECA MSAs are Shanghai, Jiangsu Province and Zhejiang Province. Jiangsu includes the key ports of Nantong and Suzhou, whilst Zhejiang covers Ningbo-Zhoushan (including Beilun, Chuanshan, Daxie, Zhenhai, Meishan, Shengsi, Liuheng, Dinghai, Qushan and Jintang).

In China's two other ECAs, Bohai Bay and Pearl River Delta, the situation is said to remain unchanged, with the requirement to use compliant fuel at all times set to become effective on January 1, 2019.

P&I club North of England P&I has advised ship operators to have a plan in place for switching over to compliant fuel when entering the Yangtze River Delta ECA. They are advised to consider the following issues:

- Heavy fuel oil requires heating whereas distillates such as marine gas oil generally do not. It is important to control the rate of temperature change when changing between these fuels.

- Ensure fuel oil spill returns from engines and other equipment are properly routed to avoid contamination of tanks.

- Changeover procedures must be workable and practical.

- Crew are trained and practice fuel changeovers - they fully understand the process and consequences of getting it wrong.

- When there are two fuels mixing in the supply line, there may be compatibility issues which can lead to the formation of sludge and block the pipework. It is advisable to carry out compatibility tests between the different fuels on board before use.

- There may be a need to undertake modifications to the vessels and its systems, such as fuel treatment arrangements. There will be a need for adequate storage capacity for the various grades of fuel and the suitability of the tanks must be assessed, such as protection from heat sources.

- Consider sending distillate bunker samples for laboratory testing and if operating in cold climates, know the cold flow characteristics of the fuel. Distillates can be adversely affected by the formation of wax in cold weather conditions and the fuel specification should be checked for cloud point and cold filter plugging point.

- If possible, carry out the changeover operations away from busy traffic areas and coastal areas.