Many vessels currently calling to Hong Kong voluntarily burn low-sulphur fuel, in return for financial incentives under a scheme introduced by the Government in 2012.
Next Wednesday, 18 March 2015, the Hong Kong Government Environmental Protection Department will table a regulation at the Legislative Council, which will require vessels to burn low-sulphur fuel whilst berthed in Hong Kong. If the regulation is approved, all ocean going vessels (OGVs) will be required to burn fuel oil with a sulphur content not exceeding 0.5%, LNG, or other low-sulphur fuel, approved by the Director of Environmental Protection.
OGVs calling at Hong Kong will be required to switch to fuel which meets the prescribed standards within one hour of arriving at their berth and burn the fuel until not less than one hour prior to the vessel's departure. Dates and times of fuel change-over operations must be logged and records of the same are to be kept for at least three years.
If approved by the Legislative Council, the regulation is expected to enter into force on 1 July 2015.
Since the lower limits for Emission Control Areas came into effect under MARPOL Annex VI on 1 January 2015, Ultra Low-Sulphur Fuel Oil with maximum 0.1% sulphur content has become more widely available. The fuel required by the new regulation (maximum 0.5% sulphur) is not an industry standard grade, so it is likely that ships will either burn gas oil or Ultra Low-Sulphur Fuel Oil, if available, whilst berthed in Hong Kong. This would also avoid vessels having to segregate three different grades of fuel.