The shipping industry is keen like the
international bodies that focus on reducing atmospheric pollution that it must
find ways and means of complying with the increasingly becoming stringent
emission regulations in a cost effective way. The industry is already not in a
There is urgency indeed that shipping
must not put off anymore the concerted efforts to fight pollution. It is
well-known that some 15 biggest ships produce more sulphur oxide pollutants
than all the cars in the world. Both the transports use different fuels.
The car fuel is same as the Ultra Low
Sulphur Marine Gas Oil. A ship produces more carbon dioxide emission per mile
and per gallon of fuel than a car. However, ships in general, have the lowest
emission levels of any other method of cargo transport, producing fewer
emissions per ton of freight per mile than barges, trains or trucks.(Image
Courtesy: Bluebird Marine Systems)
ships use bunker fuel producing more carbon di oxide emissions, as Sea News
points out, ships in general, have the lowest emission levels of any other
method of cargo transport, producing fewer emissions per ton of freight per
mile than barges, trains or trucks.
Giving a graphic picture of the current
situation with regard to shipping emissions, Sea News deals with the issue of
pollution with details.
Container ships usually run 24 hours a
day for weeks. There are currently over 6000 massive container ships operating
globally and 85,000 commercial cargo ships. Marine heavy fuel or “bunker fuel” is
essentially the lowest grade of liquid fuel in use. It contains 2,000 times, as
much sulphur as standard automobile diesel.
Bunker fuel is literally the left over
when all of the cleaner types of fuel have been extracted from the crude oil. A
study reveals that 760 million cars which are currently operating worldwide
emit as much sulphur as 15 container ships running at full capacity.
One main output statistic of the world
fleet analysis is the ratio of emitted grams of CO2 per tonne-km of transported
cargo. Another emissions statistic is an estimate of total CO2 emitted (in
million tonnes per year) per size bracket for the above ship types. To measure
ship emissions, these statistics are estimated for a variety of ship types
under a variety of scenarios – sea-to-port time, ship speed and fuel
consumption at sea and in port.
The major ship types in the world today
are – bulk carriers, crude oil tankers, container vessels, product/chemical
carriers, LNG carriers, LPG carriers, reefer vessels, Ro-Ro vessels and general
cargo ships. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from commercial shipping are
currently not duly regulated. Nevertheless, they are a subject of intense
scrutiny by the world shipping community.
As of January 2017, there were 52,183
ships in the world’s merchant fleets. General cargo ships are ranked as the
most common type of ship in the global merchant fleet, accounting for about a
third of the fleet: There were almost 17,000 such ships in the merchant fleet
as of the beginning of 2017.
General cargo ships had a combined
capacity of around 112.8 million tons deadweight in January 2017; this is about
half the volume of container ships’ combined capacity, which came to around
245.6 million tons deadweight. The growing pressure to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions in the industry asks for manufacturers’ response. With that in mind,
new builds of general cargo ships are predicted to produce an average of 40
percent less carbon dioxide emissions by 2040.
Bulk carriers are ranked as the second
most common type of ship in the world, accounting for over 20 percent of the
global merchant fleet. As of January 2017, the number of bulk carriers stood at
around 11,000. Crude oil tanks and container ships are the third and fourth
most common types, with nearly 14 and about 10 percent of the share,
respectively. The number of crude oil tankers rounded up to more than 7,000
units, while the number of cargo container ships in the world was at about
5,000 units in the beginning of 2017.
Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) is very cheap
compared to Ultra Low Sulphur Marine Gas Oil (ULSMGO) and many engines are not
designed to handle the ULSMGO because it is so much thinner than HFO it does
not have the lubrication properties of the HFO.
Companies are using various workarounds
to make it work, such as chilling the fuel to increase the viscosity or
injecting extra lubricant into certain parts of the engine. Due to the extra
costs and possible mechanical issues, these regulations are continuously
re-evaluated and phased approaches are used for implementation.
Currently, sulphur content standards for
fuel used in international shipping are set at no more than 3.5%. In 2020, that
will drop to no more than 0.5%. All of these regulations are contained in the
Convention on Marine Pollution (MARPOL), Annex VI, which sets the regulations
for Air Pollution in the Maritime Industry.
To check the problem of emissions, all
90,000 ships would require a global emissions policy. And a stricter and
swiftly-enacted policy would critically damage international trade.
As far as fuel goes, researchers are
exploring several alternatives to bunker fuel – the best of which is LNG
(Liquified Natural Gas). LNG has the capacity to replace bunker fuel, though it
would require a new working infrastructure – something not exactly attractive
for developing countries. Even a successful implementation of LNG
wouldn’t reduce carbon dioxide levels enough to totally nullify the effect of
marine transport on climate change.
Some companies are part of the push with
Liquefied Natural Gas. These ships will produce fewer emissions, of any
compound, than any other vessel currently in service. The entire shipping industry
is looking at conversions to natural gas or other fuels, and engine
manufacturers are designing engines that can handle a variety of fuels.