Shipping Industry Prepare For Global Sulphur Cut By 2020


The Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA) has instituted a comprehensive programme to start engaging with stakeholders and players in the shipping industry to prepare towards complying with the sulphur cap enforcement set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), effective from January 1, 2020.

Under the new global cap, ships will have to use fuel oil on board with a sulphur content of no more than 0.50 percent m/m (mass), against the current limit of 3.50 percent, which has been in effect since 1st January 2012. This is according to the IMO, the regulatory authority for international shipping who begun spearheading this policy implementation since 2008.

This measure is in line with the IMO resolution to ensure a significant reduction in sulphur content of fuel used by ships across the globe.

The proramme of engagements, according to the Authority, will commence soon and it is expected to enlighten industry players on the anticipated outcomes in the global maritime sector, most especially with regards to the impact it could have on their operations and businesses activities.

The reduction in sulphur oxide emissions resulting from the lower global sulphur limit are expected to have a significant beneficial impact on the environment and on human health, particularly that of people living in port cities and coastal communities.

Importantly, with the coming into operation of the new ultra-modern Terminal Three of the Tema Port in June 28 this year, it is expected that the number of ships in the enclave will increase significantly because it’s maximum cargo handling capacity has been increased from 820,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) containers to two million TEUs.

Maritime industry players agree that the move by the IMO will largely benefit the environment in the reduction of Sulphur content.


The IMO has laid down four options in the move to enable the global industry comply to the measure. These include switching from high-sulphur fuel oil to marine gas oil (MGO) or distillates; using very-low-sulphur fuel oil or compliant fuel blends; retrofitting vessels to use alternative fuels such as liquified natural gas or other sulphur-free fuels; and installing exhaust gas cleaning systems.


It is estimated that more than 70,000 ships will be affected by the regulation when it comes into effect next year. Stricter limits on sulphur emissions are already in place in Emission Control Areas (ECAs) in Europe and the Americas, and new control areas are being established in ports and coastal areas in China. As a result, ship owners are weighing their options to ensure compliance.