Tanker owners and operators at the Intertanko Tanker Event in Singapore were given a unique insight into the thinking behind the environmental policy applied to shipping.
China is a signatory to IMO’s regulations concerning shipping and the environment, but understanding the language used in China’s adoption of the regulations helps to explain some of the ways Chinese policy differs from that of other signatory countries.
The differences are subtle.
One shipping executive from a Chinese tanker company noted that China’s aims are to:
These, he explained, will be achieved through the application of science and technology.
Using his company as an example, he said they are working with Chinese scientific organisations, class societies and shipyards in China to develop an LNG powered VLCC to lower carbon emisssions.
Regarding sulphur emissions, the executive’s current fleet will mainly use low sulphur fuel but with the strict proviso that no fuel is to be burned in the engine until the results of tests have been returned and that they meet strict requirements. The company is also monitoring three of its tankers fitted with scrubbers.
An Intertanko delegate noted that the operation of ballast water treatment systems on the Yangtze River was particularly difficult due the volume of silt and sediment in the river.
The Chinese tanker operator acknowledged that this was an issue with its domestic tanker fleet operating up and down the river. The solution, he said, was to schedule the occasional long deep sea voyage and conduct ballast water exchange in deep waters.
On 1st January 2019, China introduced revised Domestic Emission Control Areas (DECAs) within which only 0.5% (or below) sulphur content fuel can be used. From 1st January 2022, the limit on sulphur in fuel drops to 0.1%.
The DECA regions are shown on the official map and essentially cover all sea areas and ports within 12 miles of the mainland coast, the Hainan waters and the Yangtze and Xijiang rivers.
The impact of the revised environmental regulations on the domestic fleet will be substantial, with the provisions calling for inland waterway vessels built after 1 January 2019 to be capable of using shoreside power (some categories are exempt) and engine NOx and exhaust gas cleaning equipment must be fitted.
That said, it is forbidden to discharge open loop scrubber wash water in these areas.
To cope with the increased workload on inspectors, the Chinese Ministry of Transport is reinforcing the inspectorate in the regions.
Domestic and international vessels calling at a Chinese port will also be required to collect on energy consumption from 1st Jan 2019. A special form with the vessel’s details and fuel consumption must be handed over before leaving berth.
Regarding ballast water treatment systems, those vessels arriving with sub-standard BWMS' must go to a port treatment plant or sail out and follow ballast water exchange.