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If the major classification societies are to be believed, by 2020 the North Sea will be a hive of high-tech LNG-powered feeders whizzing about, while large deepsea vessels call at ports just outside the emission control area (ECA) zone like Liverpool to drop off their cargo. But in the short-term, predominantly HFO-fuelled vessels are still going to have to call at ports within the zone.

Member lines of the Transpacific Stabilisation Agreement (TSA) are planning a low sulphur surcharge to offset “hundreds of millions” of dollars in extra costs from the 0.1% sulphur limit.

Hong Kong's enthusiasm for clean air has spread to neighbouring Shenzhen, where the government plans to spend RMB200m ($32.6m) a year on cash rebates to encourage shipping lines to switch to low sulphur fuel while at berth, local media reported.

On the eve of SMM, the leading technical maritime event opening today in Hamburg, marine lubricant firms Shell Marine Products and Total Lubmarine have both announced new products formulated for slow-speed two-stroke engines running on ultra-low sulphur fuel required in Emission Control Areas (ECA) from 1 January 2015.

With the 1 January 2015 deadline for use of 0.1% sulphur fuel or equivalent abatement technology in Emission Control Areas (ECAs) looming, it could be said that we are entering the age of the scrubber, at least for those companies choosing the abatement route rather than switching to burn more expensive low-sulphur fuel.

Lloyd’s Register (LR) is working with Portsmouth International Port to help develop the UK’s first LNG bunkering facility.

According to Danish Maritime Authority (DMA) a number of undisclosed North European states have agreed what it called a "musketeer oath" on enforcing low sulphur regulations in Emission Control Areas (ECAs).

“There is no clear idea” as to how the European Commission’s Sulphur Directive would be enforced, says Patrick Verhoeven, secretary general of the European Community Shipowners’ Association (ECSA).

Hamburg Sud says the switch to low sulphur fuel in coastal waters and readying vessels for shoreside will increase costs by $40m a year, which will be passed onto shippers.

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