Ship Pollution: NIMASA to ensure availability of sulphur compliant fuel

Acting Head, Marine Environment Management (MEM) Department, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr Isa Mudi (second right), representing the Director-General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh; Deputy Director, MEM, NIMASA, Dr. Oma Ofodile (third right); Assistant Director, MEM, Unit Head, Liabilities and Compensation, NIMASA, Mrs Chinyere Azike (third left); Assistant Manager, Operations, Dangote Oil Refinery Company, Engr. Bessie Nabena (second left); Assistant Director, Head, Climate Change Unit, MEM, Mr Kabiru Bello (left); and President, Centre for Marine Surveyors Nigeria, Engr. Akin Olaniyan, during a stakeholders meeting with modular refinery operators on availability of 0.5 per cent m/m sulphur compliant bunker fuel in Nigeria, organised by NIMASA in Lagos, Wednesday April 14, 2021

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) says is determined to ensure the availability of fuels complying with the regulation of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) limiting the sulphur in the fuels used by ships to 0.50 per cent m/m (mass by mass).

Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, stated at a meeting with modular and other refinery operators and fuel oil suppliers in the country in Lagos, yesterday.

Represented by Acting Head, Marine Environment Management (MEM) Department, NIMASA, Mr. Isa Mudi, Jamoh said the NIMASA had made a deliberate effort to conform to the new fuel oil mandate, known as IMO 2020.

Jamoh said “As the country’s shipping regulator, we have had interfaces with the relevant stakeholders on how to reach a win-win agreement on Nigeria’s compliance with the IMO sulphur content cap. We are happy to announce that the coast is clear for us to achieve this mandate.

“Nigeria has an advantage ab initio because we produce low sulphur crude. The challenge for us now is the conversion of this advantage to the availability of bunker fuels that meet the IMO mandate.  

“I make bold to say that we have all it takes to be the bunker fuel hub for Sub-Saharan Africa. There is a $2 billion bunker fuel market in Sub-Saharan Africa waiting to be harnessed by our businessmen and women.

“Our refineries are not working at full capacity, and this is an opportunity for the modular and other private refineries to come in to fill a vital gap in the marine fuel supply chain. Bunker fuel is a critical element in the shipping business.

“With the coming into effect of IMO 2020, we assure you as an agency that the country’s shipping community will be galvanised to ensure availability, supply, and, in fact, self-sufficiency in 0.5 per cent sulphur content fuels in line with the IMO standard.”

In their contributions, representatives of the refineries and fuel oil suppliers pledged their cooperation with NIMASA and other relevant government agencies in the attempt to make the required fuel accessible.

The new sulphur oxide emissions-cutting regulations mandate a maximum sulphur content of 0.5 per cent in marine fuels globally. The change is driven by the need to reduce air pollution generated in the shipping industry by reducing the Sulphur content of fuels that ships use.

The regulation came into force on January 1, 2020, marking a significant milestone in efforts to improve air quality, preserve the environment and protect human health.

The IMO 2020 rule limits the sulphur in the fuel oil used onboard ships operating outside designated emission control areas to 0.50 per cent m/m, a significant reduction from the previous limit of 3.5 per cent. Within specifically designated emission control areas, the limits were already stricter (0.10%). This new limit was made compulsory following an amendment to Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).

There was a large turnout of refinery operators and industry stakeholders at the meeting. They included representatives of Niger Delta Refinery (NDR), Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), and OPAC Refinery.

The meeting had in attendance representatives of government agencies, including the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

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