Keywords: air pollution control, marine light diesel, marine vessels, sulphur content

The Air Pollution Control (Marine Light Diesel) Regulation (Regulation) was gazetted on 17 January 2014. Subject to the approval of the Legislative Council, the Regulation will take effect on 1 April 2014.

The Regulation seeks to regulate the quality of marine light diesel (MLD), i.e., light diesel oil used by marine vessels, including imposing a cap on the sulphur content of the MLD, so as to reduce emissions from marine vessels. The aim is to help improve the ambient air quality and reduce health risks for the population, particularly those in the coastal areas.

At present, the quality of fuels (including the sulphur content) supplied to marine vessels is not regulated, unlike the quality of fuels supplied to motor vehicles which is regulated by the Air Pollution Control (Motor Vehicle Fuel) Regulation (Cap. 311L) (MVF Regulation), which aims to reduce air pollution. Accordingly, the Regulation seeks to provide specifications that must be met by MLD supplied1 in Hong Kong, and require MLD importers2 and MLD suppliers3 to keep relevant records. The key provisions are:

  • Locally supplied MLD must contain not more than 0.05 percent sulphur by weight and must comply with any of the following specifications (Restriction), i.e., (i) "Category ISO-F-DMA" in ISO 8217:2012 published by the International Organization for Standardization, (ii) "Gasoil 0.05 percent Sulfur" in the FOB Singapore gasoil/diesel specifications published by Platts (which is a division of McGraw Hill Financial, New York, U.S.A.), and (iii) those specified for motor vehicle diesel in the MVF Regulation. The Restriction, however, does not apply to MLD supplied to warships or any other vessels on military service.
  • Requiring MLD importers to (i) submit monthly reports to the Director of Environmental Protection (Director), setting out information about each batch of MLD supplied by the importer in the previous month, and (ii) keep MLD quality test reports about the specifications of the MLD, and transaction4 records about the acquisition and supply of MLD by the importer for three years.
  • Specifying the type and extent of information which must be included in the relevant reports.
  • Requiring MLD suppliers to keep transaction records about the acquisition and supply of MLD for three years.
  • Requiring MLD importers and MLD suppliers to submit for inspection the above records, if requested by the Director.
  • Specifying the test methods for determining the sulphur content of MLD.

The Regulation does not apply to MLD that is goods in transit5, transhipment goods6, or solely for export or re-export. It is presumed that, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, any MLD found in Hong Kong does not fall into any of the foregoing categories.

A person who supplies the non-compliant MLD in contravention of the Restriction commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine level of HK$50,000 and to imprisonment for three months.

A person who contravenes the requirements referred to in the second and third bullet points above commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine level of HK$50,000 and to imprisonment for one month.

Originally published 30 January 2014


1 "Supply" is defined in the Regulation to include (i) offer or expose for supply, (ii) sale, and (iii) offer or expose for sale.

2 Defined in the Regulation to mean a person who carries on a business of importing and of supplying MLD.

3 Defined in the Regulation to mean a person who carries on a business of supplying MLD but is not an MLD importer.

4 Defined in the Regulation to include any dealings whether with or without consideration.

5 Defined in the Regulation to mean MLD that is brought into Hong Kong solely for the purpose of taking it out of Hong Kong and which remains at all times on the vessel, vehicle or aircraft that brought it into Hong Kong.

6 Defined in the Regulation to mean any imported MLD that (i) is consigned on a through bill of lading or a through air waybill from a place outside Hong Kong to another place outside Hong Kong, and (ii) is or is to be removed from the vessel, vehicle or aircraft in which it was imported and before being exported, is either (a) returned to the same vessel, vehicle or aircraft, or (b) transferred to another vessel, vehicle or aircraft, whether it is or is to be transferred directly between such vessels, vehicles or aircraft, or whether it is to be landed in Hong Kong after its importation and stored, pending exportation.

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