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China penalises foreign ship for using non-compliant bunkers in ECA zone

China has penalised a foreign ship for burning bunker fuels with sulphur content of over 0.5% in the country’s designated Emission Control Areas (ECAs), according to a recent circular by American Steamship Owners Mutual P&I Association (the American Club).

The American Club said China’s Maritime Safety Administrations (MSAs) in Hebei province and Tianjin municipality have imposed the penalty on the ship, though it was not clear how the vessel was penalised.

In conducting the supervision and inspection survey of the foreign vessel that arrived at Tianjin port, the MSA officer suspected that the vessel was using non-compliant fuel. Sampling results showed that the sulphur content of the fuel of that ship was 0.866%, which exceeded the maximum of 0.5%, according to the club.

“This is the first reported case of the usage of non-compliant fuel in the People’s Republic of China since the second and more stringent stage of control measures was implemented on 1 January 2017. The latest control measures requires ships to use fuel with a sulphur content of no more than 0.5% during berthing at key ports (excluding one hour after anchorage and one hour before departure),” the American Club stated.

Apart from the above publicly reported case, the club said there have been at least two other foreign flagged vessels that have been penalised by the MSA for burning non-compliant fuels.

“Given these recently reported developments, it seems clear that the MSAs will continue to enforce the PRC ECA regulations and requirements vigorously,” the club said.

Eleven core Chinese ports - Guangzhou, Huanghua, Qinhuangdao, Tangshan, Tianjin, Zhuhai, Shanghai, Nantong, Ningbo-Zhoushan, Suzhou and Shenzhen – have enforced the 0.5% sulphur rule.

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