*Seeks Co-operation of Refinery Operators, Fuel Oil Suppliers
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has stated its readiness to comply with the global maritime watchdog, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) regulations on the sulphur content in the fuel for ships in the country.
To this end, the Nigeria’s apex maritime regulatory authority has said it will comply with the regulation by ensuring availability of marine fuels that comply with the global maritime watchdog, IMO regulations.
NIMASA resolve is coming on the heels of IMO new sulphur oxide emissions cutting regulation that limits a maximum sulphur content of 0.5 per cent in marine fuels globally.
The change is driven by the need to reduce air pollution generated in the shipping industry by reducing the sulphur content of fuels that ships use.
The regulation came into force on January 1, 2020, marking a significant milestone in efforts to improve air quality, preserve the environment and protect human health.
Checks by Maritime Bits showed that the IMO 2020 rule limits the sulphur in the fuel oil used on board ships operating outside designated emission control areas to 0.50 per cent m/m, a significant reduction from the previous limit of 3.5 per cent. Within specifically designated emission control areas, the limits were already stricter 0.10 percent.
This new limit was made compulsory following an amendment to Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).
The IMO which has its headquarters in London, United Kingdom, limits sulphur in the fuel oil used on board ships to 0.50 per cent m/m (mass by mass).
The Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh who stated this in Lagos at the opening of a two-day meeting of the agency with modular and other refinery operators and fuel oil suppliers in the country recently said averred that the agency had made deliberate effort to conform to the new fuel oil mandate, known as IMO 2020.
Jamoh who was represented by NIMASA Acting Head, Marine Environment Management (MEM) Department, Mr. Isa Mudi said: “As the country’s shipping regulator, we have had interfaces with the relevant stakeholders on how to reach a win-win agreement on Nigeria’s compliance with the IMO sulphur content cap. We are happy to announce that the coast is clear for us to achieve this mandate”.
Continuing, the NIMASA helmsman said: “Nigeria has an advantage ab initio, because we produce low sulphur crude. The challenge for us now is conversion of this advantage to availability of bunker fuels that meet the IMO mandate. I make bold to say that we have all it takes to be the bunker fuel hub for Sub-Saharan Africa. There is a $2 billion bunker fuel market in Sub-Saharan Africa waiting to be harnessed by our business men and women.”
According to Jamoh, our refineries are not working at full-capacity and this is an opportunity for the modular and other private refineries to come in to fill a vital gap in the marine fuel supply chain. Bunker fuel is a critical element in the shipping business. With the coming into effect of IMO 2020, we assure you as an Agency that the country’s shipping community will be galvanised to ensure availability, supply, and, in fact, self-sufficiency in 0.5 per cent sulphur content fuels in line with the IMO standard.
Representatives of the refineries and fuel oil suppliers in their contributions pledged their cooperation with NIMASA and other relevant government agencies in the attempt to make the required fuel accessible.
Many refinery operators and industry stakeholders attended the meeting. They included representatives of Niger Delta Refinery (NDR), Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), OPAC Refinery, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).