IMO Adopts Mediterranean SECA with 0.10% Sulfur Emission Limit

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Friday December 16, 2022

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has formally adopted its plan to limit sulfur emissions from ships in the Mediterranean to 0.10%.

IMO approval for the introduction of a Sulfur Emissions Control Area (SECA) for the Mediterranean (MEDSECA) was taken at MEPC 78 in June, leaving this week's action mearly a formality. 

The MARPOL Annex VI amendment, formally adopted at the UN body's Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting in London this week, will see the sulfur limit within a newly created Mediterranean SECA drop from 0.50% to 0.10% as of May 1, 2025.

Similar SECAs have been in place in the Baltic and North Sea, as well as North America, since the start of 2015.

The new limit will mean ships operating in the Mediterranean will need to either switch to burning 0.10% sulfur fuels like marine gasoil, install and use a scrubber to achieve an equivalent level of compliance, or use tonnage capable of running on sulfur-free fuels like LNG.

A push for including the Mediterranean within a SECA have been ongoing for many years, and a number of stakeholders were disappointed that the area did not toughen its fuel rules alongside neighbouring European ports in 2015.

The market impact is likely to be less pronounced than the 2015 change, in part because the shift down from a 0.50% limit to 0.10% is less than the drop from 1% to 0.10% when the Northern European ECA came into force, and also because a much larger share of the global fleet now has scrubbers installed already.

In 2016 a study also concluded the lack of SECA afforded no commercial advantage for ports in the Mediterranean.