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Blue Economy

IMO 2020, German shipping will use new fuel

Hamburg - The vast majority of ships in the German fleet will run on the new sulphur-reduced fuel from 1 January at the latest

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Hamburg - The vast majority of ships in the German fleet will run on the new sulphur-reduced fuel (Low Sulphur Fuel Oil, LSFO) from 1 January at the latest. This is one of the findings of a survey conducted by the German Shipowners’ Association (Verband Deutscher Reeder, VDR) among its member companies.

While the body of data obtained through the survey is not representative of the German shipping industry as a whole, it does reflect views that can certainly be extrapolated since the respondents include shipping companies from every sector of the German shipping industry.

The survey, writes the Hamburg Port Authority in a press release, was conducted against the backdrop of one of the biggest changes occurring in the shipping sector, a change that will take effect just over a month from now: following a decision by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), a subsidiary organisation of the United Nations, ships around the world may only use fuel with a sulphur content of no more than 0.5 per cent.

The standard currently in force sets the maximum limit for the sulphur content in maritime fuels at 3.5 per cent. There are essentially three options available to shipping companies during the changeover. According to the survey, 81 per cent of the companies surveyed will be using LSFO with a sulphur content of 0.5% in the future. Eleven per cent will continue to use Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO).

This is expressly permitted under the IMO rules, provided that exhaust gas purification systems, so-called scrubbers, are installed on the ships. Six per cent of respondents indicated that they will be using other fuels, such as those prescribed already since 2015 for Emission Control Areas in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea – fuels with an even lower sulphur content of 0.1 per cent.

Two per cent of the ships in the German fleet will already be operated using LNG after 2020, according to the survey. “Germany’s maritime industry has carefully prepared for this enormous change. It ushers in a new era in maritime shipping, signalling the end of heavy fuel oil. We support this change and are implementing it – and in doing so, we are making an impressive contribution to long-term environmental protection,” said Ralf Nagel, CEO of the VDR.

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