Environmental Group Calls for Arctic HFO Ban

Wednesday January 22, 2014

As the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) prepares to finalize negotiations on the Polar Code for Arctic shipping, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) says the absence of a ban on the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) is a flaw in the proposed code, the Barents Observer reports.

"Heavy fuel oil has huge implications for environment," said Nina Jensen, WWF Norway chief executive.

"We must find other ways of fueling the ships in the future."

Felix Tschudi, owner of the Tschudi Group shipping company disputed the notion of banning the fuel.

"If it comes such ban for the Arctic, nobody will sail there but instead use the Suez or other sea routes," he said, adding that HFO may not be worse than other fuels in terms of pollution.

"It might be that light oil could be spread much more," he said.

"This must be investigated. That's why I think we should focus on oil pollution as such rather than specific oil products."

Jensen responded that regulators have already made rules against the use of HFO in Antarctica and eastern Svalbard.

As rising temperatures lead to more melting of Arctic ice, voyages in the Arctic have increased, and a September incident in which a tanker was damaged by an ice floe on the Northern Sea Route (NSR) highlighted the potential danger of operations in the Arctic.