Ports could benefit if UK eases sulphur regulations post-Brexit, says IBIA

Ports in Gibraltar and on the UK’s west coast may benefit if the UK eases regulations on sulphur emissions from vessels once it ceases to be European Union member (a so-called ‘Brexit’), the International Bunker Industry Association (IBIA) says.

The association has just published a new paper, titled ‘IBIA investigates: Brexit and sulphur regulations – what now?’ (downloadable here), which looks at a range of short-term and future scenarios that could arise from the current uncertainty surrounding the two topics.

Once the UK has formally left the EU, the nation could decide to replace the EU’s sulphur emissions regulations and opt for different requirements, the report states.

If the UK opts to ease restrictions on sulphur emissions from vessels compared to the EU Sulphur Directive, ports on the UK’s west coast could potentially attract more shipping, the IBIA report said.

Ports like Liverpool and Bristol could develop their existing container and breakbulk hubs, according to the paper.

Similarly, Gibraltar, a major bunker port in the Mediterranean and a British dependant territory, could change sulphur regulations within its own territorial waters and make itself more attractive as a bunkering hub.

“Brexit has thrown up so many potential scenarios, which when combined with a decision from the IMO regarding the timing of a global sulphur cap, could lead to very different trading patterns and opportunities in particular for Bristol and Liverpool ports,” IBIA chief executive Peter Hall said in a release.

“However, shipping companies whose operations fall mainly in UK west-coast waters will continue to face uncertainty over whether they should install scrubbers in time for 2020, or if the UK will allow them to use higher sulphur fuels in UK waters until 2025,” he continued.


Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.


  1. We could do that, turn our selves into the “dirty man of Europe”. It’s interesting to see how many industries are similar things, remove workers rights, reduce regulation when/if we leave Europe. It’s so good to see that the campaign for Brexit was fought at the level of the gutter (racism, xenophobia and blatant lies) and that industries are trying to get down into the gutter too. So much for quality in industries.

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