Ban on Heavy Fuel Oil in Antarctic Enters into Force

29 July 2011: The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has reported that a ban on heavy fuel oil from the Antarctic will enter into force on 1 August 2011, and that a new North American Emission Control Area (ECA) will be created. The ban and ECA aim to reduce pollution in the Antarctic region.

The ban is contained in an amendment to Annex I (Regulations for the prevention of pollution by oil) to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), with a new chapter on "Special requirements for the use or carriage of oils in the Antarctic area." The effect of the new chapter is to prohibit the use of heavy fuel oils by ships transiting the Antarctic area, which will have to switch to higher grade fuels while in the area.

Amendments to MARPOL Annex VI (Prevention of air pollution from ships) establish a North American ECA, in which emissions of sulphur oxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter from ships will be subject to more stringent controls than the global limits. The ECA will take effect on 1 August 2012, 12 months after the amendments enter into force. [IMO Press Release] [UN News Centre Story]