UN agency slaps ban on heavy fuel oil in Arctic

UN agency slaps ban on heavy fuel oil in Arctic
Green groups claim the UN ban on heavy fuel oil in the Arctic will have minimal environmental benefit. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 21 November 2020

UN agency slaps ban on heavy fuel oil in Arctic

UN agency slaps ban on heavy fuel oil in Arctic
  • The Arctic has warmed at least twice as quickly as the rest of the world over the last three decades and shipping traffic has expanded

LONDON: The UN shipping agency on Friday approved a ban on the use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic region in a move criticized by green groups which said loopholes will allow many vessels to keep sailing without enough regulatory control.

Antarctic waters are protected by stringent regulations, including a ban on heavy oil fuel (HFO) adopted in 2011, even though no cargo moves through the turbulent southern waters. For the Arctic, the rules have been looser.

In a virtual session of its Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) the UN’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) approved a ban on the use of HFO and its carriage for use by ships in Arctic waters after July 1, 2024.

The Clean Arctic Alliance coalition described the regulations as “outrageous” as it included exemptions and waivers, which would mean a complete HFO ban would only come into effect in mid-2029.

“In its current form, the ban will achieve only a minimal reduction in HFO use and carriage by ships in the Arctic in mid-2024,” said Sian Prior, lead adviser to the Clean Arctic Alliance.

“The ban will mean that a full three-quarters of the ships using HFO today will be eligible for an exemption.”

An IMO spokeswoman said there would be an exemption for ships with oil fuel tanks located inside their double hull. There would also be a provision allowing countries with coastlines bordering Arctic waters to issue waivers to ships flying their flag while they operate there until July 1, 2029.

The Arctic has warmed at least twice as quickly as the rest of the world over the last three decades and shipping traffic has expanded.

Environmentalists say HFO produces higher emissions of harmful pollutants, including sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxides, and black carbon. In addition, a possible oil spill involving HFO from a ship could have a devastating impact on the Arctic’s ecosystem.

The next MEPC session, scheduled for June 2021, is expected to formally adopt the measures.


Saudi energy minister says OPEC+ new deal ‘mature’

Updated 18 min 8 sec ago

Saudi energy minister says OPEC+ new deal ‘mature’

Saudi energy minister says OPEC+ new deal ‘mature’

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman affirmed that there is no disagreement between oil producers, describing this disagreement as rumors.

Talks were successful, Prince Abdulaziz said on the sidelines of the 12th OPEC and non-OPEC Ministerial Meeting held yesterday, adding that a monthly meeting will be held to address market uncertainty, Al-Eqtisadiah reported.

Commenting on the agreement after the meeting, Prince Abdulaziz said: “This is a mature agreement.... We will tweak whenever it is necessary and possible."

Everyone is well aware of the unstable market nature over the next three months. This will be monitored to intervene at the right time, prevent price fluctuations and encourage more compliance.

The Opec+ alliance reached an agreement on increasing oil production starting next January, following a disagreement among members over the size of the proposed supplies the coming year, according to a report.

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