Maersk official calls for greater enforcement of SOx rules

A senior official from Maersk has echoed comments made last week by the Danish Shipowners’ Association, calling for greater enforcement of new SOx rules in northern Europe.

Speaking at Sustainable Shipping, a conference organised as part of Danish Maritime Days, Niels Bjorn Mortensen, head of regulatory affairs at Maersk, warned: “We are not yet convinced that the enforcement regime is robust enough to detect all non-compliant ships.”

He said non-compliant ships create a non-level playing field, noting how Maersk is paying $200m a year to comply with new SOx rules.

“There is significant financial incentive in circumventing the new rules,” Mortensen said, adding that evidence of compliance is “basically a piece of paper”.

Using the correct fuel for the new emission control areas costs Maersk’s largest boxships up to $1,000 more than standard marine gas oil. Bunker cheating, Mortensen said, was costing Maersk around $100m a year.

Detection of non-compliance is very difficult, Mortensen said, who also said fines were often low, coming in for as little as EUR1,500. He also noted that to date there had been very few detentions.

Last week the Danish Shipowners’ Association warned in a release that too many ships are getting away without complying with EU sulphur directives across northern European emission control areas (ECAs).

“Denmark is among those taking the lead but the rest of the world must follow to ensure that ignoring the Directive does not become an attractive option. Not respecting the low-sulphur limits will be detrimental to both the climate, and to the competitiveness of Danish ships,” the association said.

Since January 1 this year, ships sailing in areas such as the North and Baltic Seas and the English Channel have been required to reduce their sulphur emissions by 90%. Given the difference in bunker prices for lower sulphur fuel is as high as $200 per ton, the association is worried that many companies are not complying with the new ECA.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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