Hong Kong: Air emission standards


Published: 25 March 2015

Members will be aware of the regulation of air emissions from vessels under MARPOL in ECAs, and it is noteworthy that other jurisdictions are also developing separate emission standards. Most recently a new emissions standard has been enacted for Hong Kong.

A vessel at berth (Source: Skuld)

The development

On 11 March 2015, the Environmental Department of Hong Kong Government released details of proposed new LSFO (Low Sulphur Fuel Oil) regulation in Hong Kong waters for ocean-going vessels. The proposed new regulation was submitted to Hong Kong's Legislative Council on 18 March 2015 for approval, will be enforced starting 1 July 2015.

The regulation requires OGVs (Ocean Going Vessels) to burn low sulphur marine fuel of sulphur content less than 0.50% while at berth, other than during the first hour after arrival and the last hour before departure. This practice was introduced as a voluntary standard in September 2012, and now has received the force of law.

It was stated by the Environmental Department that if a vessel can use technology to achieve the same or lower emission of SO2 (Sulphur Dioxide) as may be emitted from the use of the compliant fuel, then the OGV may be exempted from the switching to such fuel. This is taken to mean that vessels with scrubbers installed that can achieve the same or better emissions, will be able to use these scrubbers for the purpose of compliance with this regulation.

A breach of this regulation will attract a penalty of a maximum fine of HK $200,000 and six months imprisonment. A failure to keep adequate records may lead to a fine of HK $ 50,000 and three months imprisonment.

The aim of the Regulation is to curb total emissions of SO2 and suspended particle pollution, in an effort to improve the air quality of Hong Kong.

Regulatory compliance

At present this regulation applies to the following specific situation:

  1. for Ocean Going Vessels (OGVs)
  2. at berth
  3. after the first hour of arrival
  4. until before the last hour before departure
  5. as of 1 July 2015

Vessels should be prepared, so that they have the requisite fuel on board prior to berthing and that fuel switch over procedures are conducted in a safe and timely fashion.

Members should ensure that they are always up to date with the very latest regulatory requirements for any port of call that they may permitted under the charterparty. It is also important to ensure that charterparties and other relevant contracts (say contracts of affreightment, fuel supplies, etc.) contain appropriate clauses that apportion time, cost and risk of regulatory compliance as well as the consequences of a failure to comply.

Further reading

The Association has previously advised on the issues that may be experienced when considering the use of low sulphur fuel, including a detailed guide, specific fuel switch over issues, as we well as dedicated topic sections on air emission standards as well as ship fuel.

For vessel specific enquiries, members are asked to contact their usual Skuld business unit.