Canada starts sampling ship fuels for sulfur compliance

SEPTEMBER 9, 2016 — Canadian Marine Safety Inspectors last month began using on site fuel sampling and testing to verify compliance with the 0.1% sulfur content requirement for marine fuel.

Canada's Vessel Pollution and Dangerous Chemicals Regulations set out provisions to implement the North American Emission Control Area (NA-ECA) adopted under MARPOL Annex VI.

Since January 1, 2015, the sulfur content of marine fuel used on board a vessel must not exceed 0.10% by mass within the Canadian jurisdiction of the NA-ECA, as set out in Section 111 of the Regulations.

The NA-ECA standard is expected to result in a more than 90% decline in sulfur oxide emissions from vessels.

Transport Canada promises to "rigorously monitor vessels" to ensure they are complying with the NA-ECA standards.

Transport Canada will use portable fuel analyzers onboard vessels to measure the sulfur content of its fuel oil to verify compliance with the NA-ECA standard. Test results will help inspectors make informed decisions on the next enforcement steps during the course of the inspection.


The process applies to all vessels operating in waters under Canadian jurisdiction that are using petroleum-based fuel oils, either residual or refined products.

  • This process does not apply to a vessel that is:
  • using a sulfur emission control system or an alternative to petroleum-based fuels;
  • a foreign vessel powered by a propulsion boiler that was not originally designed for continued operation on marine distillate fuel or natural gas;
  • a Canadian vessel:
    • under a fleet averaging program as set out in Section 111.1 of the Regulations; or
    • exempted from Section 111 of the Regulations by a decision of the Marine Technical Review Board (MTRB); or
    • a vessel operating under a waiver issued under Regulation 3 or 4 of Annex VI to MARPOL.


During an inspection of a vessel, a Marine Safety Inspector may require a sample of fuel from the engine's fuel system and perform an analysis of the fuel sample using a fuel analyzer.

Depending on the results of the analysis, the inspector may also forward the samples to an accredited laboratory to confirm compliance with the fuel oil sulphur content requirements. If the analyzer is not available, the inspector may forward the fuel sample directly to the laboratory for analysis.

The vessel's authorized representative will be informed of the analytical results. In addition, Transport Canada will share the results with industry stakeholders, other maritime administrations and the International Maritime Organization, but will make data on individual ships anonymous.




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