Sulphur Pollution: NIMASA To Comply With IMO’s Marine Fuels Content Requirement, Seeks Stakeholders’ Cooperation

-by Barnabas Esiet.

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is determined to comply with the regulation by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) limiting the sulphur content in the fuel oil used on board ships to 0.50 per cent m/m (mass by mass).

Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, stated this in Lagos at the opening of a two-day meeting of the Agency with modular and other refinery operators as well as fuel oil suppliers in the country.

Dr. Jamoh, who was represented by the Agency’s Acting Head, Marine Environment Management (MEM), Isa Mudi, said NIMASA has been making deliberate effort to conform to the new fuel oil mandate, known as IMO 2020.

In his words; “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 conversion of this advantage to 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 business men 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.” He added.

The NIMASA boss also gave assurance that the country’s shipping community will be spurred to facilitate self-sufficiency in 0.5 per cent sulphur content fuelsin the country, in line with the IMO standard.

For their parts, 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.

L-R: Acting Head, MEM Department, NIMASA, Isa Mudi (second right), Deputy Director, MEM, NIMASA, Dr. Oma Ofodile (third right); Assistant Director, MEM, Unit Head, Liabilities and Compensation, NIMASA, 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, at the meeting with modular refinery operators on availability of 0.5 per cent m/m sulphur compliant bunker fuel in Nigeria.

The IMO 2020 rule limits the sulphur in the fuel oil used on board 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. This new limit was made compulsory following an amendment to Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL).

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.

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