Sulphur limitation: Nigeria approves ISO standards for marine fuels

Mr. Chinyere Egwuonwu (standing) delivering the DG’s address. Others from left are Engr. Timothy Abner, SON Head, Training Services; Mrs. Tessy Ojomo, Group Head, Chemical Technology, Prof. Joseph Ajienka, TC Chairman and Dr. Shakirdeen A. Ajani of FIIRO during the meeting.

Effort of limiting sulphur oxide emission from ships on Nigerian seas, Nigeria has reached consensus of adopting the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) standards for turbine and marine fuel as Nigeria Industrial Standard (NIS).  

The consensus was reached at a recent meeting of the Nigerian National Technical Committee on Petroleum and Petrochemicals held recently at the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) Laboratory Complex, Ogba Lagos.

This development was in conformity to international safety regulations limiting the sulphur content in heavy fuel oils to reduce the negative effect of sulphur oxide emission from ships into the environment.

Speaking at the meeting, the Director General of SON, Barrister Osita Aboloma re-echoed the importance of standards in protecting the health of consumers and the environment as well as facilitating fair trade practices, particularly with the growing demand for quality and safe products globally.

According to him, the deliberations on the draft Standards for Turbine and Marine Fuel was aimed at meeting the aspirations in the industry to align with best practices, explaining that Nigeria as a signatory is expected to comply with IMO regulation with regard to the implementation of 0.50% m/m maximum sulphur content in heavy fuel oil (Bunker fuel oil) used on board during ship operations within controlled areas.

Represented by the Director, Standards Development, Mrs. Chinyere Egwuonwu, Aboloma acknowledged the support of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), in convening the technical committee meeting.

He stated that the role of NIMASA as a regulator in maritime activities would aid the implementation of the standard, and accompanying regulations. “It would also ensure strict compliance on Nigerian territorial waters, after approval by the Standards Council of Nigeria”, he said.

The SON helmsman disclosed that sulphur oxide is known to cause respiratory symptoms and lung disease in humans and has a detrimental effect on the atmosphere, can lead to acid rain, which may in turn harm crops, forests and aquatic species as well as contribute to the acidification of the oceans.

“Therefore, limiting Sulphur oxides emissions from ships will improve air quality and protect the environment, resulting in tangible health benefits, particularly for people living close to ports and major shipping routes”, he said.

Chairman of the Technical Committee, Professor Joseph Ajienka of the University of Port Harcourt commended SON for creating the avenue for developing the standard, which according to him would help curb pollution in the maritime industry.

Professor Ajienka stated that such pollution can be linked to the high level of greenhouse gas emissions from burning fuels and the negative effect on the environment, emphasizing that the standard would help educate stakeholders in the sector on what is expected of them, while also making the environment safer.

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