Chinese PSC Inspectors Begin Issuing IMO Sulfur Limit Citations

The marine insurer Standard Club reports that Chinese authorities have cited at least two vessels for non-compliant bunker fuel use since the IMO 2020 0.5 percent sulfur limit took effect on January 1.

The first ship was undergoing a port state control inspection in Qingdao when the Chinese Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) determined that it was using fuel oil with a sulfur content of about 0.7 percent.

The second ship was berthed in Xiamen when the MSA cited her with burning non-compliant fuel, Standard Club reported. The ship had been at berth for nearly six days after changing over to compliant fuel. It is likely that pre-existing high sulfur fuel residue was still in the fuel system, resulting in emissions over the China ECA limit. The ship was ordered to take measures to purify the fuel system.

According to Standard Club, it is not yet clear whether the two vessels will be fined for noncompliance. Before the IMO 2020 limit took hold, China instituted sulfur limits for its coastal waters under its own ECA regime. That framework, part of China’s Atmospheric Pollution Prevention and Control Law, provides for fines of between $1,500 and $15,000 for each violation of sulfur limits.

China also prohibits the discharge of washwater from open-loop scrubbers in Chinese emission control areas.