The European Commission has published Directive 2012/33/EU on 21 November 2012. This amends Council Directive 1999/32/EC and specifies the maximum content of sulfur in marine fuels.
The maximum level of sulfur in marine fuel has been 1% since July 2010 and this will reduce further to 0.1% from January 2015 for vessels from EU member states. The level of sulfur in marine fuels for non-EU vessels is also being reduced to 3.5% from January 2014 and 0.5% from January 2020.
These changes are being introduced to reduce the contribution to atmospheric pollution of oxides of sulfur (SOx) from the marine sector, which is one of the largest contributors to this. This will increase the costs of fuel to shipping and ferry companies, at least in the short-term, which is a cause of some concern.
Analytical methods for accurately determining the sulfur content of fuels at these levels of interest are available to assist enforcement.
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