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

  • 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.


6 things to watch on Tadawul today

Updated 14 min 46 sec ago

6 things to watch on Tadawul today

Here are a few things you need to know as Saudi stocks start trading on Sunday.

1) Abdullah Saad Mohammed Abo Moati for Bookstores Co. (Abo Moati) renewed a Sharia-compliant financing facility agreement with National Commercial Bank (NCB) worth SAR 40 million ($10.66 million).

2) Bawan Co.’s 85.5 percent-owned subsidiary, United Transformers Electric Co., signed a SAR 82.4 million agreement with Saudi Electricity Co. (SEC) to supply electrical distribution transformers.

3) Electrical Industries Co. (EIC) said two of its subsidiaries signed electrical equipment supply agreements, worth SAR 84 million, with SEC.

4) Leejam Sports Co. (Fitness Time) signed an exclusive five-year contract worth $50 million with Technogym.

5) The Capital Market Authority (CMA) approved a request by Naseej International Trading Co. to reduce its capital to SAR 61.63 million from SAR 178.16 million.

6) Brent crude on Friday gained 38 cents to reach $48.18 per barrel while WTI crude decreased 18 cents to reach $45.53/bbl.

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