2/2017—Global implementation of new sulphur content limit in fuel oil for all ships from 1 January 2020

Advice about the global implementation of the limit on sulphur content in fuel oils.

The purpose of this marine notice is to advise of the global implementation of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex VI limit of 0.50 mass per cent concentration (0.50% m/m) sulphur content in fuel oil, for all ships, from 1 January 2020.

This notice is issued as general guidance only and should be read in conjunction with the relevant Act, Marine Orders and Standards.  This document does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for independent professional advice.

Implementation of the sulphur limit

In 2008 the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted amendments to Annex VI of MARPOL to set a global limit of 0.50% m/m sulphur content in fuel oil effective from 1 January 2020. This regulation was adopted pending a review of the global availability of low sulphur fuel oil to facilitate ships’ compliance with this requirement.

In 2015 the IMO commissioned a study to review the global and regional demand for, and supply of, compliant fuel oil. In October 2016, IMO considered the study and agreed to retain the 2008 decision to implement the 0.50% m/m sulphur content limit in fuel oil from 1 January 2020. 

After this date, all ships operating in Australian waters will be required to use fuel oil with a sulphur content of no more than 0.50% m/m. Alternatively, fuels such as methanol or gas may be used, or an IMO approved method, such as an exhaust gas cleaning system, may be used, if the resulting emissions are equivalent.

While agreeing to retain the 2020 implementation date, IMO acknowledged that further work should be undertaken to facilitate the transition to the new requirements. Accordingly, the IMO will consider a precise scope of the required work including any necessary guidance to assist with implementation by 2020.

All requirements regarding discharges from ships, including garbage, sewage and air emissions, and a list of local fuel oil suppliers that service Australian ports, are available on AMSA’s website.

Download Global implementation of new sulphur content limit in fuel oil for all ships from 1 January 2020—marine notice 2/2017 (PDF 46 KB)

Gary Prosser 
Deputy Chief Executive Officer 
Australian Maritime Safety Authority
January 2017

GPO Box 2181 

Last updated: 

Tuesday 17 December 2019