Maritime jobs at risk as SOx emission rules loom
Mar.12--SULPHUR emission rules that will affect UK shipping in 2015 could lead to the loss of over 2,000 jobs and cause the price of road diesel to rise.

A UK Chamber of Shipping report, which the chamber says is the first of its kind to go into such detail, suggests that much more freight would be moved by road, leading to increased carbon emissions, route closures, job losses, and increased road congestion.

The cost of road diesel would increase by 2.8p per litre, and freight and passenger prices on vessels will rise, in some cases by up to 29%.

In less than two years new regulations will force owners in northern Europe to use a marine fuel that has a sulphur content less than 0.1%. 

For most vessels this will mean a switch to more expensive distillate fuels. The rules come from the International Maritime Organization and the European Union.

The chamber’s report is in response to a ministerial meeting last year that asked for an assessment of the effect the rules would have on UK shipping.

UK Chamber director of safety and environment David Balston said owners do not question the need to reduce sulphur emissions from shipping, but believe the speed that the owners are expected to meet the targets, at huge cost, is still a concern.

He said the the root of problem was the financial and environmental costs of low-sulphur fuel. Concern has been raised in the past over the ability of owners to use liquified natural gas as a fuel and to install exhaust gas cleaning systems. 

Using liquefied natural gas as fuel is only suitable for certain newbuildings, and the industry has questions about the viability of scrubbers.

The chamber will present the report to a ministerial meeting on March 20. Mr Balston said the report reflected owners’ concerns, but added that concern within the UK was over a small number of routes that were at risk of closure.

An additional concern for government ministers is how the rules could hinder the ability of international manufacturers to establish plants in the UK.

“Some areas will become less attractive due to fewer routes to the European mainland,” said Mr Balston, hinting at decisions that car makers and other industries would be forced to make.

The chamber is pushing for some of these routes to be exempt from the 2015 deadlines, at least until 2020 when shipping operating outside an emission-control area will be subject to an emission drop.

Other national shipowners’ associations, including those in Denmark and France, have also spoken out about the need for some routes to be exempt from the 2015 deadline.

Mr Balston said the proposal to allow route exemptions will not influence competition as many routes identified in the UK as being at risk are unique, without any other operators on them.

The problem facing the shipowning organisations will be to convince national political leaders to agree to their concerns and to then propose, both at the IMO and in Brussels, to allow exemptions. 

(Source:Lloyd's List) 
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