Freight News, Sea

New sulphur rules will mean higher Irish Sea rates, warns Freightlink

[ July 23, 2019   //   ]

Ferry ticket agent Freightlink is warning that ferry operators on the Irish Sea will have to comply with new sulphur regulations from 1 January 2020,  bringing the prospect of increased freight charges.

Emission Control Areas will be extended to the region on that date, limiting the Sulphur content to 0.5% of the fuel compared with 3.5% under the old rules.

New types of low sulphur fuel such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and biofuel are available but they cost more than the current fuel and as it is a large portion of the total cost operators this unavoidable, additional expense will be passed onto customers in the form of new low sulphur surcharge. This will likely be in place from December to ensure compliance.

Freightlink director Phil Simpson stated: “As the Irish Seas exemption from the EU Sulphur Directive comes to an end, January 2020 will see the Irish Sea ferries come under the same rules as other shipping areas. Whilst cost increases are never welcome, this date has been known for some years and European hauliers have paid such surcharges on different shipping lanes for a number of years.”

As an alternative but expensive option, ferries can continue to purchase heavy fuel oil but install ‘scrubbers’ to reduce the output of sulphur oxide expelled in exhaust gases. However, many ports including Dublin are banning the use of open-loop scrubber designs on environmental grounds. Irish Sea operators Seatruck and P&O Ferries have already announced that they will be using the new 0.5% fuel rather than scrubbers.