WWL Switches Fuel at All Ports


By MarEx 2016-07-14 18:00:22

Since 2010, all ships operating at ports in the E.U. and along the North America coast are required to use fuel with a maximum of 0.1 per cent sulfur. Global car carrier Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics has now gone a step further by using low-sulfur fuel for all its vessels at all ports.

For the past 11 years, WWL has operated with a voluntary policy limiting the average sulfur content in fuel to 1.5 percent, avoiding the release of about 220,000 tons of sulfur to the atmosphere compared to the industry average. This is close to the total amount of sulfur emitted in France in 2012.

But the focus a decade ago was sulfur’s contribution to acidification, and recent research has shown ever more clearly its human health impact, causing respiratory and cardiac deceases. The 0.1 percent sulfur legislation in ECA zones covering North America and the E.U. are a response to this. However, most ports around the world are not covered by sulfur legislation. In WWL’s case, 49 of the company’s 79 main trading ports lie outside the designated ECAs, and looking at ports called occasionally the number is 23 of 24.

The decision to expand the sulfur policy was the outcome of a review that showed the need for a shift in emphasis. The focus now is not only on pure environmental issues but also on social aspects and health considerations.

Anna Larsson, Global Head of Sustainability at WWL, said: "In the past there was generally quite a one-sided emphasis on acidification when it comes to sulfur. Following a review of our sulfur policy and taking into account current research, we realized that we can make a significant impact both socially and on people's health. It was a logical progression for us to turn our attention more to what is happening at the port."

In practice, the policy means switching to either marine gas oil or to scrubbers. 

WWL made its new sulfur policy announcement in China, home to seven of the world’s 10 largest ports. China has become a leader in Asia when it comes to controlling air pollution from ships. China’s Domestic Emission Control Area (DECA) sulfur regulation is currently being introduced in three key port regions, requiring ships to switch to 0.5 percent sulfur fuel. In response to robust efforts to clean up air pollution from the shipping industry, companies such as WWL have responded with voluntary clean fuel policies that go beyond minimal compliance.

The WWL news has been well received globally. Edvard Molitor, Senior Manager Environment at the Port of Gothenburg, welcomes similar global initiatives from more shipping companies in the future. This is particularly so in the light of the fact that the IMO has yet to succeed in introducing the same sulfur regulations in every country in the world.

"It's taking too long. That's why it's good that WWL is addressing the situation directly. I agree with their thinking when it comes to broadening the horizon regarding the effects of sulfur emissions. Hopefully others will follow suit, even if conditions vary from one shipping company to another," said Molitor.