A 0.10% bunker sulfur limit could soon be in force across the Mediterranean. File Image / Pixabay
A group of countries in the Mediterranean have agreed to set up an emissions control area in the region setting a stricter marine fuel sulfur limit than the global standard for the first time.
Parties to the UN's Barcelona Convention have agreed to the measure this week, which would cut the sulfur emission limit in the Mediterranean from 0.50% at present to 0.10%.
The next stage for the proposal will be to apply to the International Maritime Organization to formally introduce the measure at the next Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting next year. Once the proposal is approved and adopted there, the SECA could be in place by the mid-2020s.
"Our commitment today manifests the will to work with our non-EU partners to achieve high standards of environmental protection in line with our European Green Deal," Virginijus Sinkevičius, commissioner for the environment, oceans and fisheries at the European Commission, said in a statement on the organisation's website on Friday.
"I am particularly proud that all contracting parties have agreed to designate the Mediterranean as a sulphur emission control area to protect the health of millions of Mediterranean citizens and their marine environment from ship's pollution."
The move will have a significant impact on bunker markets in the region, dramatically cutting VLSFO demand and replacing it with MGO and ULSFO. The increased cost of these lower-sulfur fuels may also prompt some shipowners in the region to make an earlier shift into alternative bunker fuels.
The contracting parties tot he Barcelona Convention are Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, and the European Union.