UK: Sulphur Directive Becomes Law in the UK

Last Updated: 19 May 2010
Article by Anthony Woolich and Cécile Schlub

Click here to download the PDF of our Client Briefing.

The marine aspects of the Sulphur Directive (the "Directive") have been implemented into English law with effect from 20 April 2010, through the Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships) (Amendment) Regulations 2010. The Directive is one of many EU led initiatives to reduce the pollution generated by sea-going ships.

Requirements of the Directive

The Directive requires that the fuel oil used by ships while "at berth" in EU ports is limited to 0.1% m/m maximum sulphur content. Marine gas oils which have a sulphur content exceeding this limit can no longer be marketed.

The prohibition applies to use in all equipment including main and auxiliary engines and boilers, and to all ships in UK ports (and ports of all other EU jurisdictions where the Directive has been implemented), irrespective of whether or not they are flagged in an EU Member State.

There are limited exceptions to the Directive. The Directive will not apply to (i) ships which are due to be at berth for only short shops (i.e. less than two hours), and (ii) ships that switch off all engines and use shore-side electricity while at berth in ports.

Under certain conditions, ships may also be exempt from complying with the rules if this is necessary for the purpose of securing the safety of a ship, but this will not apply where the ship's equipment has not been modified to accept low sulphur fuel, or where modifications to the ship's equipment have been made but the modified equipment has not been used.

Any exemption from the requirements of the Directive in the UK may be considered by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency on application. Owners should be prepared to produce documentary evidence in support of their application, including evidence that the owner is aware of the requirements of the Directive, that all reasonable steps have been taken to comply with it, and setting out the reasons for non-compliance.

Legal issues

Some questions will inevitably arise from the implementation of the Directive on the responsibility for complying with the new rules. Owners have an implied obligation to ensure that ships are fit for service, from a technical as well as legal point of view. Owners often warrant that the ship is in full compliance with all laws, regulations, etc.

Additional obligations which may be triggered by the Directive include obligations to pay additional off-hire for time lost as a result of maintenance of the ship, and conversion of the ship's equipment.

If necessary, specific provisions will need to be inserted in new contracts to ensure that liability for both the time and cost of any necessary vessel alterations and the higher cost of purchasing suitable bunkers is clearly laid out.

Owners will also have to ensure that any required documentation evidencing the ship's compliance with the Directive is carried on board. Details of fuel changeover operations must also be recorded appropriately in the ship's logbook under the Directive.

Disputes are likely to arise where existing contracts are terminated for breach of contract and non-performance where parties have failed to comply with their obligations on seaworthiness, maintenance, off-hire, termination, etc. Issues may also arise on the payment for low sulphur fuel, as these tend to be more expensive than most ordinary fuels and parties may find themselves unexpectedly liable for the cost of complying with the Directive.

Operational and Safety issues

The implementation of the Directive means that engines must be capable of burning the right grade of bunkers in order to comply with the Directive. This has raised some operational and safety concerns about the use of low sulphur fuel where ships' equipment such as boilers may not be designed to use low sulphur fuel.

Action will need to be taken to ensure that where necessary, ships, including boilers, management systems and auxiliary engines, are converted to handle low sulphur fuel safely. Such transitional measures may include segregated storage tanks and dual pumping systems. The recommendation from the European Commission indicates that these technical adjustments "should not take more than eight months", but boiler manufacturers have not necessarily been able to adapt on time for the implementation of the Directive.

On timing, the Directive allows "sufficient time" to complete change-over operations by ships at berth as soon as possible after arrival at berth. Various factors such as safety, the need for maintenance, and the operating circumstances of the ship will be considered when determining what is "sufficient time".

The risks of non-compliance

Owners and charterers may find themselves in breach of their contractual arrangements if they do not comply with the obligations which result from the Directive, and be made liable to pay damages.

The sanctions for non-compliance with the "at berth" requirements will vary from country to country. Within the EU, types of penalties will range from financial penalties to orders to comply. Ultimately, some shipowners or masters may be prosecuted and ships banned from a port, region or country. In the UK, breach of the Regulations is an offence by the master of the ship in question, and punishable on summary conviction by a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or on conviction on indictment by a fine.

Further considerations

It is worth noting that the recent amendments to MARPOL Annex VI will impose lower limits on the sulphur content in fuel oils from 1 July 2010 (1.00% rather than the current 1.50 %) and 1 January 2015 (0.10 %) in Sulphur Emission Control Areas, including the Baltic and the North Sea.

HFW tips

We recommend that:

  • All necessary modifications to ships's equipment be carried out.
  • Owners and charterers should be prepared to provide evidence that all reasonable steps have been taken to comply with the Directive.
  • All existing charterparties are reviewed to ensure that liabilities for complying with the Directive are appropriately allocated.
  • Owners and charterers should ensure that the liabilities for complying with the Directive are adequately allocated in all new contracts.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.