China strengthens Yangtze River ECA

Shanghai already introduced a cap in April 2016. Credit: Southern Cross Maritime
Shanghai already introduced a cap in April 2016. Credit: Southern Cross Maritime

China has brought forward sulphur pollution restrictions in the Yangtze River Delta emission control area (ECA) by one year to 1 October 2018.

This will limit marine sulphur emissions to 0.5% m/m, matching ECAs in Europe and North America. Vessels can comply with the regulations by burning low-sulphur fuels or by installing abatement technology.

Existing sulphur limits in the Yangtze River Delta apply when vessels are berthing, but were not expected to be expanded to the entire ECA until 1 October 2019, according to insurer North P&I Club.

“This means that vessels must change over to compliant fuel in sufficient time prior to entering the Yangtze River Delta ECA,” it said. “There are notable risks when changing over from high-sulphur heavy fuels to low-sulphur distillates and vice versa when at sea. It is strongly recommended that members review and update their vessels’ procedures for this task.”

Vessels seeking exemptions must approach the Maritime Safety Administration of Shanghai and Zhejiang in advance.

The Yangtzee River Delta ECA spreads from Nantong and Yancheng, encompassing the Port of Shanghai, and extends about 12 nautical miles from the coast.