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The 0.1% sulfur emission control area limiting the emissions from ships operating in Northwest Europe may be extended to the Mediterranean within the next decade, according to the head of industry group the International Bunker Industry Association.
“I think it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when and how big it’s going to be,” IBIA Director Unni Einemo said at the S&P Global Platts Mediterranean Bunker Fuel Conference in Athens on Thursday.
Proposals in various forms to cut the Mediterranean sulfur emissions limit from its current level of 3.5% have been under discussion at the International Maritime Organization for several years. The global limit is set to drop to 0.5% at the start of 2020, and a further cut to 0.1% in the Mediterranean would bring an increased cost to shipowners operating in the region as well as more benefits to respiratory health, she said.
While extending the European ECA to the south seems likely to happen within the next decade, what’s more important is how big a Mediterranean ECA would be, Einemo said. France has been a strong supporter of the idea, but some of the other countries affected might be less supportive, she said. A Mediterranean ECA with a smaller geographic footprint may be a compromise the region can settle on.
The global 0.5% sulfur limit in 2020 is set to tighten the middle distillates market significantly. Cutting the sulfur limit from 0.5% to 0.1% in the Mediterranean could add further pressure on distillate supplies.