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. There are eight Arctic states; however, ships that operate in the Arctic fly many flags. Summarizing the use and carriage of HFO in the IMO’s Polar Code Arctic by flag state, the report finds that Russian-flagged ships consumed the most HFO by far in the area in 2015, distantly followed by Canada and Denmark.
The use of heavy fuel oil as a marine fuel poses serious environmental and economic risks in ecologically sensitive areas like the Arctic, not only because of potential fuel oil spills, but also because burning it produces harmful air pollutants, including black carbon (BC). As ship traffic increases in the Arctic, the risk to the Arctic environment and its peoples will also increase.
HFO use in IMO Arctic
In 2015, in IMO Arctic:
- 2,086 ships operated for 2.6 million hours, traveling 10.3 million nautical miles, with 1.1 million tonnes of fuel onboard, collectively.
- These ships consumed 436 thousand tonnes of fuel and emitted 193 tonnes of BC.
- HFO represented 57% of fuel use by weight, 76% of fuel carried by weight, and 56% of distance-weighted fuel carried.
- In total, 68% of the 193 tonnes of BC these ships emitted resulted from burning HFO.
HFO use by flag-state in IMO Arctic
In 2015, in the IMO Arctic:
- Ships flew 65 flags
- 889 of 2,086, or 42%, of ships operated on HFO
- HFO represented 57% of fuel use, 76% of fuel carried, and 56% of distance-weighted fuel carried
- HFO-fueled ships emitted 131 tonnes of BC or 68% of BC emitted from all ships.
- Russia had 332 HFO-fueled ships flying its flag in the region, by far the most of any flag state.
- 3 Russian-flagged ships consumed over 140 thousand tonnes of HFO, emitting approximately 74 tonnes of BC, 9-times more BC than Canada, whose HFO-fueled fleet emitted approximately 8 tonnes of BC
- HFO-fueled Russian-flagged fishing vessels accounted for 56% of HFO use, 38% of BC emissions, 20% of HFO carriage as fuel, and 59% of distance-weighted HFO fuel carriage.
- As such, HFO-fueled Russian flagged ships accounted for 56% of HFO consumption and 38% of BC emissions from all ships in the area
- Russian-flagged ships carried over 168 thousand tonnes of HFO as fuel, equivalent to 20% of HFO, led by Panama, Marshall Islands, Liberia, and Singapore. In fact, non-Arctic flagged ships represent 74% of HFO carriage as fuel.
However, the report noted, non-Arctic flagged ships account for a substantial amount of HFO use and carriage and BC emissions. Indeed, HFO-fueled ships registered to non-Arctic countries represent 28% of HFO use, 74% of HFO carriage as fuel, 27% of distance-weighted HFO carriage as fuel, and 19% of BC emissions from all ships in the Arctic. Thus, actions from Russia to phase out the use of HFO in all or a portion of its fleet could have a dramatic impact on reducing the risks of HFO from ships in IMO Arctic.
However, there are large ships registered to non-Arctic countries that use and carry a considerable amount of HFO and emit BC that pose a threat to the Arctic. Therefore, it seems that a region-wide regulation that applies to the entire Arctic, regardless of flag, would offer the best protection against the risks of HFO.
Another paper by ICCT analyzing the use of HFO by ship-type found that general cargo ships were by far the biggest emitters of black carbon emissions (t) from HFO in the area for 2015.
Further details may be found herebelow: