The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), issued five briefing papers, prepared by PhD Bryan Comer, summarizing HFO use in the IMO Polar Code Arctic, for 2015. Analyzing data for the cruise sector, the paper reveals 40 of 62 cruise ships operated on HFO in the region in 2015, with most HFO-fueled cruise ships flying the Bahamas flag.
While Arctic cruises offer an opportunity for people to learn about this ecosystem and the peoples who call the Arctic home, these journeys pose a threat to the Arctic environment through air and climate pollution emissions, including BC emissions, and through the risks of HFO spills.
HFO represented 71% of fuel use, 85% of fuel carried, and 64% of distance-weighted fuel carried (or 74% if nuclear fuel is ignored).
Regarding flag states, the Bahamas had 18 HFO-fueled cruise ships flying its flag in the IMO Arctic in 2015, by far the most of any flag state. As such, ships registered in the Bahamas used the most HFO, emitted the most BC, and carried the most HFO.
With the exception of two Russian-flagged ships, all of the HFO-fueled cruise ships operating in the Arctic are registered to non-Arctic states.
Russia and the Bahamas account for the most distance-weighted HFO fuel carriage, each representing more than 4-times as much as the next flag state, Italy.
Regarding group beneficial owners, Carnival Corporation owns 8 of the 40 HFO-fueled cruise ships operating in the IMO Arctic in 2015, more than any other company. These 8 ships consumed a total of ~2,800 tonnes of HFO (ranked 3rd), emitted 1.6 tonnes of BC (ranked 2nd), had a total of ~11,600 tonnes of HFO in their fuel tanks at any given time (ranked 1st), and had a distance-weighted fuel carriage of 12 million t-nm (ranked 2nd).
However, the Russian-owned Rosmorport, with its ship the ‘Kapitan Dranitsyn’, is responsible for the most HFO use, BC emitted, and distance-weighted HFO fuel carriage in the IMO Arctic in 2015.
Ships registered in the Bahamas consumed the most HFO, followed by France and Russia.
Bahama-flagged cruise ships consumed nearly 10 thousand tonnes of HFO, emitting over 5 tonnes of BC, the most of any flag state. This is not surprising given that Bahama-flagged cruise ships represented 18 of the 40 HFO-fueled cruise ships operating in the area in 2015.
HFO carriage as fuel by flag state
Ships registered to the Bahamas carried the most HFO onboard as fuel, carrying nearly three-times as much as the next closest flag state, Italy .
However, when we multiply each ship’s fuel carriage by the distance it sailed, we find that ships registered to Russia (2 ships) and the Bahamas (18 ships) accounted for the most distance-weighted HFO carriage as fuel, much more than the other flag states.
Even though the Bahamas has many times more HFO-fueled cruise ships operating the IMO Arctic than Russia, the Bahama-flagged ships that traveled the greatest distances in the IMO Arctic in 2015 also tended to be the smaller ships that have smaller fuel tanks; whereas the Russian-flagged Kapitan Dranitsyn alone accounted for distance-weighted HFO fuel carriage of approximately 37 million t-nm because she has a large fuel tank (~2700 t capacity) and sailed many miles in 2015 (~13,700 nm).
Given these results, it seems that any actions to reduce the risks of HFO from cruise ships will need to apply to ships registered not only to Arctic states, but also to non-Arctic states. Additionally, given that much of the HFO use and carriage as fuel is concentrated in a handful of GBOs, including Rosmoport, Sunstone Ships Inc., Carnival Corporation, Hapag-Lloyd AG, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, these companies could be encouraged to voluntarily agree to stop using HFO in the Arctic.