Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Container Shipping Line Extends Global Low Sulphur Policy

New Zealand Latest to Benefit from Maersk Switch
Shipping News Feature

NEW ZEALAND – Following on from the keynote speech given by Maersk Oil Trading’s Niels Henrik Lindegaard at the International Bunkering Conference in November, the Maersk group are practicing what they preach with the latest announcement from Maersk Line that their container ships, which carry freight to and from nine ports in the islands, will henceforth switch from bunker fuel to low sulphur oil. Jacob Sterling, Head of Climate & Environment, Maersk Line said:

"Sulphur is a major problem for our industry. We are concerned with the health impacts of repeated, long-term airborne exposure to SOx*, in particular for people living close to busy ports."

All nine New Zealand ports are in or very near major urban areas and Julian Bevis, Managing Director for Maersk Line, New Zealand says that the reduction in SOx will positively impact the public health and local environment. The switch reduces sulphur to the air by 80-95% in port and, as Maersk policy is to switch an entire country as opposed to a route by route policy, all of the nine ports will benefit immediately.

Last September we reviewed a report from the Tyndall Centre and pointed out that unilateral action was becoming necessary due to the prevarication of regulatory bodies and governments worldwide. When the Californian Air Resources Board decided they would ban vessels burning high emission fuel Maersk made a voluntary switch to low sulphur in 2006 and has since extended the programme to other regions, including ports in Texas, Hong Kong and the US Pacific Northwest.

SOx* refers to any oxide of Sulphur including SO2 and SO3 and higher ranges. The principal pollutant from marine fuel is Suphur Dioxide (SO2) which is a precursor to particulates generally harmful to human health and the dioxide can also combine with other chemicals such as Nitrogen Dioxide to form what we know as acid rain.