Hong Kong to impose low sulphur emissions from start of next year

New Hong Kong air pollution control regulations will enter into force on January 1st 2019, one year ahead of the IMO imposition date for ocean-going vessels.

The Hong Kong Government has been implementing the Air Pollution Control (Ocean Going Vessels) (Fuel at Berth) Regulation (the “Fuel at Berth” Regulation) (Cap 311AA) since July 1st 2015, requiring ocean-going vessels (OGVs) to switch to compliant fuel while berthing in Hong Kong. The Regulation seeks to extend the mandatory use of compliant fuel in OGVs while at berth to all vessels, including OGVs and non-OGVs, within the waters of Hong Kong, irrespective of whether they are sailing or berthing.

Compliant fuel required by the Regulation includes 0.5% or less sulphur marine fuel, liquefied natural gas or any other fuel approved by the Director of Environmental Protection.

The type of vessels affected by the Regulation will be mainly OGVs that are using heavy fuel oil. Other non-OGVs, including river trade and local vessels normally use locally supplied marine light diesel, which has a sulphur content not exceeding 0.05%.

When the Regulation comes into effect, OGVs that are using heavy fuel oil will be required to switch to compliant fuel before entering Hong Kong waters. The owner and master of an OGV will be required to record the date and time of fuel switching and keep the relevant records for three years. If an OGV uses technology that can achieve the same or less emission of sulphur dioxide when compared with using low-sulphur marine fuel, the OGV may be exempted from using compliant fuel.

When the Regulation comes into effect, except for specified vessel types as set out in the Regulation, the master and owner concerned of any vessel using non-compliant fuel within the waters of Hong Kong will be liable to a maximum fine of HK$200,000 and imprisonment for six months. Shipmasters and ship owners of OGVs who fail to record or keep the required particulars will also be liable to a maximum fine of HK$50,000 and imprisonment for three months.