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NASA study finds evidence that IMO 2020 sulphur cap reduced air pollution from shipping

Researchers concluded the global fuel regulation played the dominant role in reducing ship tracks in 2020; pandemic-related disruptions played a secondary role.

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The IMO 2020 sulphur cap has reduced artificial “ship track” clouds to record-low levels in 2020, reveals a new study conducted by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) which it announced on Wednesday (19 October). 

NASA explained ship tracks, the polluted marine clouds that trail ocean-crossing vessels, are a signature of modern trade. 

“Like ghostly fingerprints, they trace shipping lanes around the globe, from the North Pacific to the Mediterranean Sea. But in 2020, satellite observations showed fewer of those pollution fingerprints,” it said. 

Drawing on nearly two decades of satellite imagery, researchers found that the number of ship tracks fell significantly after a new fuel regulation went into effect. 

“A global standard implemented in 2020 by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) – requiring an 86% reduction in fuel sulfur content – likely reduced ship track formation. COVID-19-related trade disruptions also played a small role in the reduction,” NASA added. 

Scientists used advanced computing techniques to create the first global climatology (a history of measurements) of ship tracks. They used artificial intelligence to automatically identify ship tracks across 17 years of daytime images (2003-2020) captured by NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard the Aqua satellite.

“Without this kind of complete and large-scale sampling of ship tracks, we cannot begin to completely understand this problem,” said lead author Tianle Yuan, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Ship tracks were first observed as “anomalous cloud lines” in early weather satellite images acquired in the 1960s. They are formed by water vapor coalescing around small particles of pollution (aerosols) in ship exhaust. The highly concentrated droplets scatter more light and therefore appear brighter than non-polluted marine clouds, which are seeded by larger particles such as sea salt.

“By capping fuel sulfur content at 0.5% (down from 3.5%), IMO's global regulation in 2020 changed the chemical and physical composition of ship exhaust. Less sulfur emissions mean there are fewer of the aerosol particles released to form detectable ship tracks,” NASA said. 

According to the Yuan and colleagues, similar but regionally defined sulfur regulations – such as an IMO Emission Control Area in effect since 2015 off the west coast of the U.S. and Canada – had not had the desired effect because operators altered their routes and charted longer courses to avoid designated zones.

While analysing 2020 data, the researchers found that ship-track density fell that year in every major shipping lane. (See the map above.) Ship-based tracking data indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic played a role by decreasing global shipping traffic by 1.4% for a few months. But this change alone could not explain the large decrease in observed ship tracks, which remained at record-low levels through several months of 2021 (the most recent data analysed). 

The researchers concluded that the new global fuel regulation played the dominant role in reducing ship tracks in 2020.

 

Photo credit: NASA / NASA Earth Observatory
Published: 20 October, 2022

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Poland: ORLEN to strengthen position in bunker fuels sector with new oil terminal

With the terminal’s commissioning, the company plans to introduce a bunkering vessel to service the Tri-City ports with conventional marine fuels and biofuels.

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ORLEN oil terminals

Polish multinational oil refiner ORLEN Group on Wednesday (12 June) said it is solidifying its presence in the marine fuels market with the construction of a new oil terminal that is scheduled for completion by the second half of 2025.

Construction of the Martwa Wisła terminal, located on the Martwa Wisła river, has already exceeded 70%.

The Martwa Wisła terminal will enhance the logistics capabilities of the Gdańsk refinery, allowing for the transshipment of approximately 2 million tonnes of fuel products annually.

The first four loading arms have already arrived at the construction site and the remaining four loading arms are slated for delivery by the end of June. The devices, with a throughput capacity of up to 500m³/h, will be used at transshipment points to load tankers.

With the terminal's commissioning, the company plans to introduce a bunkering vessel to service the Tri-City ports (Gdańsk, Gdynia, Sopot) with conventional fuels and biofuels.

For over 20 years, the Group has been supplying quality marine fuels to all Polish seaports. Its refinery product portfolio encompasses a wide range of fuels that guarantee quality and strict compliance with regulations, including MGO (DMA 0.1%S), ULSFO (RMD80 0.1% S) and LNG, which will in the near future be complemented with ‘green’ alternatives.

All marine fuels offered by ORLEN comply with the international ISO 8217:2017 standard and meet the requirements of the MARPOL Convention.

 

Photo credit: ORLEN Group
Published: 14 June 2024

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Australia: Crew of bunker tanker “Champion 63” to strike following employer’s refusal to negotiate

‘BP has decided they can’t pay industry standards in Brisbane and want to keep their workers’ wages low,’ states MUA spokesman.

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Champion 63

The crew of Champion 63, a 2022-built Australia-registered bunker tanker with home port of Brisbane, is set to go on strike after bargaining for a new enterprise agreement has stalled, stated the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) on Wednesday (12 June).

Members of the Australian Maritime Officers Union, the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers, and MUA voted up protected industrial action on 11 June 2024.

The crews have been trying to formalise their employment conditions with ASP Ship Management since the bunkering operations commenced in February 2023. It took ASP approximately six months to issue the Notice of Employee Representational Rights (NERR) and start bargaining.

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“The crew of the new bunker barge on the Brisbane River and the maritime unions bent over backwards to make this vessel work,” said MUA Assistant Branch Secretary Paul Gallagher.

“Including low wages, excessive hours and a roster that does not allow crew to take leave. 18 months down the track when it comes time for BP to reward their crew and pay industry standards what do they do? They deny them fair wages, a workable roster and threaten their back pay!”

The AMOU filed a bargaining dispute after ASP refused to take their claim for a roster that does not demand that crews work every weekend seriously.

“Having to work every weekend because ASP does not have suitable relief arrangements is unacceptable,” said AMOU Industrial Officer Tracey Ellis.

“Crews have a right to be rostered time off to spend with their family. Waiting for ASP to fix the issue did not work, filing a Bargaining Dispute in the Fair Work Commission did not work, so the crews will take protected industrial action until their concerns are taken seriously.”

The crews onboard the Champion 63 voted up an unlimited number of stoppages of work of between one hour and 48 hours.

Gallagher added that, “the Maritime unions will not tolerate the big multinational fuel barons of this world undermining the Australian maritime wages and conditions of seven local mariners who are trying their best to support our own local shipping and Cruise Ship industry. If your cruise holiday gets delayed it is because, after recording over $40 billion profit in last two years, BP has decided they can’t pay industry standards in Brisbane and want to keep their workers’ wages low.”

 

Photo credit: Maritime Union of Australia
Published: 13 June 2024

 

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Infineum releases Sustainability Report 2023 outlining its sustainability progress

Infineum celebrates 25 years of operations and looks forward to the next 25 years of progress towards its net zero ambition by 2050, says CEO.

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Press release Infineum remains focused on our purpose to become a sustainable world class specialty chemicals company

Infineum, a specialty chemicals company headquartered in the UK, on Thursday (13 June) released its fourth annual Sustainability Report, reinforcing its purpose to create a sustainable future through innovative chemistry.

Aligned with the company’s strategic plan to achieve its vision and purpose, Infineum announces:

Publication of its Sustainability Report 2023 (Sustainability.Infineum.com), which outlines the efforts and progress that the company has achieved through the year, including:

  • Championing of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) throughout the organisation
  • Achievement of 28% of colleagues volunteering, surpassing its 2025 target of 25%
  • Increased share of relevant supplier spends covered by sustainability assessments to 62%

Launch of revamped corporate website (www.Infineum.com) to better represent Infineum as a specialty chemicals company, showcasing Infineum’s existing capabilities, as well as diversification in the new markets

The joint venture, formed in 1999 between Shell and Exxon Mobil, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and recently shared its restructure strategy to two business units, Sustainable Transportation and Energy Applications.

“As Infineum celebrates 25 years of operations and we look forward to the next 25 years of progress towards our net zero ambition by 2050, I am pleased to share our fourth annual sustainability report,” says Infineum CEO Aldo Govi.

“This is a journey and we have made excellent progress, but improvement will not always be linear, especially when set against the backdrop of a challenging external environment, but our purpose of creating a sustainable future through innovative chemistry, continues to drive us forward.

“We remain focused on our vision to become a sustainable world-class specialty chemicals company. Sustainability was at the core of reshaping Infineum to better enable us to contribute to sustainable mobility and the transition to a low-carbon economy.”

 

Photo credit: Infineum
Published: 13 June 2024

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