Ferries may run aground due to new green fuel rules

Posted: 10/05/2012

In 2015, new internationally agreed measures will come into force which will affect ferries and ships. This is because they burn low grade fuel, which is an untreated form of oil that creates a lot of carbon emissions. When low grade oil is burned, it produces up to 3% sulphur dioxide which can cause acid rain.

The new green fuel rules will cause higher fares, fewer ferries and some longer routes could be cancelled. The current limit of ships in the English Channel, North Sea and the Baltic is 1% which will be reduced to just 0.1% under the ‘Marpol Annexe VI’.

Regulations for the rest of the world are much more relaxed. The reason why the tougher rules were agreed by the International Maritime Organisation is because they want to eliminate or reduce all adverse environmental impacts from ships. The chief executive of the International Bunker Industry Association, Trevor Harrison commented on the decision, ‘My perception is that the regulators and politicians are viewing this in the same way that they viewed the elimination of lead from fuel in cars and the introduction of catalytic converters.’

It is expected that ships will have to switch to diesel or alternative low emission fuels to meet the new limit. Unfortunately, ‘cleaner’ fuels usually cost double the price than the low grade fuel currently used. This could cause a knock on effect, bumping up the price of diesel due to the higher demand or at worse, a shortage of the fuel. John Crummie from SFDS Seaways spoke to the Independent and said, ‘The proposed changes will directly impact the whole supply chain and ultimately increase costs to the consumer for everything from holidays to the price of food in their supermarket.’

The director of communications for P&O, Chris Laming also spoke to the Independent about the changes, ‘Prices will have to rise across the board which will drive thousands of HGVs to take the long way round, with the unintended consequence of causing greater CO2 emissions. Where's the sense in that?’

Do you regularly use ferries as a mode of transport or do you enjoy a cruise holiday from time to time? Has the latest news deterred you from paying the price of setting sail into the sunset?

Amanda McGovern, Pali Ltd

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