In the first quarter of 2020, most ships calling at the Port of Singapore have complied with the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) 2020 sulphur regulations since they came into effect on 1 January 2020. Under MARPOL Annex VI Regulation 14.1, the sulphur content of any fuel oil used on board ships operating outside an emission control area shall not exceed 0.50% m/m from 1 January 2020. Likewise, the sulphur content of fuel oil used or carried for use on board a ship shall not exceed 0.50% m/m from 01 March 2020.
Port of Singapore
Based on pre-arrival notification submitted to the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) from January to March 2020, about 96% of the ships that arrived in the Port of Singapore used compliant fuel. This excludes ships installed with open-loop scrubbers that switch to using compliant fuel upon arriving in the Port of Singapore.
In the first quarter of 2020, MPA conducted a total of 326 Port State Control (PSC) and Flag State Control (FSC) inspections in the Port of Singapore. During these inspections, MPA found 12 ships, which were not fitted with scrubbers, using fuel that marginally exceeded the sulphur limit.
This was likely due to remnant residues of high-sulphur fuel in the fuel oil tanks and piping. It is expected that in time, the fuel oil tanks and piping will be properly flushed with the continual use of compliant fuel. MPA had informed the respective managers and flag administrations of these ships about the non-compliance.
Additionally, two foreign-registered ships were found to be using non-compliant fuel. They were each issued a PSC detention order, and were only allowed to depart from the Port of Singapore after it was verified that they had switched to using compliant fuel.
In light of Singapore’s prohibition on the discharge of wash water from open-loop scrubbers, no ship installed with an open-loop scrubber was found to be operating its scrubber in the Port of Singapore.
Singapore-Registered Ships Outside Singapore
During the first three months of 2020, there was no Singapore-registered ship detained by port state authorities for non-compliance with the IMO 2020 regulations. Two ships reported the non-availability of compliant fuel, and submitted the required Fuel Oil Non-Availability Report.
Amongst the small number of Singapore-registered ships installed with scrubbers, there were 31 reports of scrubber malfunction as at 29 February 2020.
Mr Goh Chung Hun, MPA’s Director of Marine, said, “As a leading maritime nation, Singapore is committed to reducing the environmental impact of shipping. By engaging the industry proactively, providing the necessary technical guidance and maintaining an adequate supply of compliant fuel in Singapore, we have ensured a high degree of compliance with IMO 2020 sulphur regulations. Singapore will continue to play its part to make shipping clean and sustainable.”
 These requirements do not apply to ships that use abatement technology approved by the flag administration as equivalent means of compliance under MARPOL Annex VI Regulation 4. One such abatement technology is the exhaust gas cleaning system (scrubber).