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Meeting IMO environmental regulations and exploring the technology required to create a responsible and sustainable future for shipping.

Emissions Challenges: 2018 & Beyond

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As the Director of Environmental Performance at ABS, I traveled to London in July as part of the U.S. delegation to the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Marine Environment Protection Committee’s (MEPC) 71st session. Since the meeting, I’ve spent much of the rest of this summer discussing complex challenges with shipping’s emission profile, and ways to address compliance with shipowners and operators.


In August, the preliminary phase of the EU’s MRV (Monitoring, Reporting and Verification) regulation left the maritime industry with a new challenge: complying with stricter air emissions rules.

Mandatory emissions reporting begins January 1, 2018, and Emissions Monitoring Plans for EU MRV should have been submitted to a verifier by the end of August 2017. While owners may have completed and submitted Emissions Monitoring Plans already, it’s important to note that reports submitted to the EU must be verified by an independent third party. ABS was the first externally-accredited class organization to perform EU MRV assessments, helping consolidate verification of emissions reports and streamline the compliance process overall.

We help owners and operators achieve compliance within EU mandates by verifying the information in monitoring plans is as required by EU MRV regulations, as well as providing verification that emissions reports conform to the accepted monitoring plan.

In terms of manual MRV compliance options, I’ve heard some concerns from owners regarding the overall administrative burden on crews. How can we develop a sustainable onboard climate for long-term compliance? After all, some vessels that have dedicated ship management software solutions for things like procurement or maintenance aren’t necessarily outfitted for the functions required for MRV compliance. Integrated, secure electronic data capture can result in higher confidence in MRV-related calculations.

Software like the ABS Nautical Systems® Voyage Manager is designed to integrate emissions data capturing with EU-approved excel reporting templates built in. With the ABS Nautical Systems AutoLogger, accuracy is improved through automatic capture of sensor data, which automates and simplifies the reporting process.

Furthermore, as shipowners begin to collect and submit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions data to the EU, they must also start a similar process in accordance with the IMO’s Data Collection System (DCS).

The IMO DCS was created to compile a global database of ship fuel consumption beginning on January 1, 2019. With the objective of better understanding fuel consumption toward further reduction of CO2 emissions from shipping, this data collection will measure total fuel consumed and aid policy decisions in the context of reducing greenhouse gases.

Global Sulfur Cap

Looking beyond MRV and DCS compliance, by 2020, the maritime industry faces an even bigger challenge: complying with the IMO’s global sulfur cap. The cap imposes a strict 0.5 percent global marine sulfur limit on marine fuel.

Central to the impending sulfur cap are requirements to reduce sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions from ships. To comply with the cap, owners have options – for example, they can choose to use a low sulfur fuel or employ systems-based compliance by fitting exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS), commonly referred to as ‘scrubbers’, aboard vessels.

As scrubbers are under increasing consideration as a solution for many vessels, we’ve updated the ABS Advisory on Exhaust Gas Scrubber Systems to help industry prepare for the 2020 sulfur cap. The updated Advisory provides in-depth guidance on scrubber technology selection – it includes background on air emissions regulations and explores various types of available scrubber technologies, along with related installation and operational challenges for each.

We have also introduced the world’s first scrubber-ready notation, providing guidance for owners planning to retrofit their vessel with a SOx scrubber at a later date.

Beyond that, ABS also published the ABS Guide for Exhaust Emission Abatement, which applies to vessels fitted with an exhaust emission abatement system, including SOx scrubbers, selective catalytic reduction systems and exhaust gas recirculation for nitrous oxide (NOx) emission control.

By utilizing the ABS Advisory on Exhaust Gas Scrubber Systems to understand the unique characteristics of available scrubber technologies, the marine industry will be able to make smarter decisions on the future of their fleets. We pride ourselves on leading the way to help industry ready for upcoming air emission requirements, from MRV compliance to the 2020 global sulfur cap and beyond.

Featured image photo credit © alexandros petrakis - Shutterstock

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