For the next two years, vessels operating in regulated California waters will continue to be subject to two separate sets of vessel air emission regulations, the California OGV Fuel Regulation and ECA Regulation, marine insurer Gard informs.
The decision follows California Air Resource Board’s (CARB) regulatory review that found that although both regulations currently specify the same maximum sulphur content, compliance with the ECA Regulation alone is not likely to achieve the desired emission reductions and the California OGV Fuel Regulation will remain in force for at least two more years until a reevaluation.
“We plan to reevaluate in two years when the Regulation 3 exemption permits have expired. A two-year period will allow for the federal enforcement program to become established. Furthermore, it will allow time for ARB staff to examine the results of planned contractor emissions testing to inform our evaluation of the potential emissions impacts from vessels complying with the ECA through the use of alternative technologies, such as exhaust gas scrubbers, and low sulfur heavy fuel oils,” CARB said.
Since 1 January 2014, vessels operating within 24 nautical miles of California’s coastline have been required to use distillate fuel with a sulphur content not exceeding 0.10 percent by mass.
The sulphur cap for vessel’s operating in the MARPOL Annex VI North American Emission Control Area (ECA) also dropped to 0.10 percent on 1 January 2015. Due to the fact that the ECA extends 200 nautical miles off the West Coast of the United States, it encompasses regulated California waters.
However, the two sets of the regulation are not identical as some of the provisions under the ECA Regulation that provide for alternative compliance options, such as the use of exhaust gas cleaning devices and non-distillate low sulphur fuels, are not specifically identified in the California OGV Fuel Regulations.
Since 1 January 2015, and pending CARB’s review and comparison of achieved emission reductions under the two regulations, vessels operating in regulated California waters have been required to comply with both regulations.