The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is revising key regulatory text to ensure that U.S. refiners and suppliers can permissibly distribute IMO 2020 compliant marine fuel for use in ships operating outside of Emission Control Areas (ECAs).
The international sulfur content limit for fuel used outside ECAs is currently 35,000 parts per million (ppm) but will be decreased to 5,000 ppm under changes to Annex VI of the MARPOL convention that take effect January 1, 2020.
“These targeted regulatory corrections will clear the way for U.S. refiners to provide cleaner marine fuel for ships that sail across the globe,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Hitting this key deadline is vital to meeting the terms of this important treaty that protects air quality and human health both at home and abroad.”
The technical corrections to the diesel fuel regulations will allow fuel suppliers to distribute distillate diesel fuel that complies with the 5,000 ppm international sulfur standard for ships instead of the fuel standards that otherwise apply to distillate diesel fuel in the U.S.
This new sulfur limit is not as stringent as the limit that applies in designated U.S. ECAs, currently set at 1,000 ppm (and in effect since 2015), but is more stringent than the current global limit and is expected to lead to significant health and welfare benefits globally.