Container lines agree to cut ship emissions

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 16 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 16 October, 2010, 12:00am

Some of the world's largest container shipping lines will slash ship emissions at the port of Kwai Chung after agreeing to use less polluting low sulphur fuel while berthed for loading and unloading cargo.

The firms include the Tung family controlled Orient Overseas Container Line, Singapore's APL, Evergreen Marine from Taiwan, the French CMA CGM Group and German carriers Hapag-Lloyd and Hamburg Sud.

Altogether about 13 lines out of the 21 container shipping members of the Hong Kong Liner Shipping Association agreed to sign its Fair Winds charter by yesterday, the deadline given by the group in the charter.

The charter said carriers that volunteer to use the low sulphur fuel will start the switch from January 1, 2011, and continue to December 31, 2012.

The change to more expensive fuel will cost participating shipping firms between US$500,000 and US$1 million per year, although all are expected to absorb the cost rather than pass it on to cargo owners and exporters.

But Maersk said it had changed to using the less polluting fuel in September, while APL said it would begin changing to the cleaner burning fuel this month.

APL, which has 87 ships calling at Hong Kong every week, said the switch would cut sulphur dioxide emissions from ships at the port by 87 per cent. This would have a direct impact on people working and living in the Kwai Chung area.

Several other carriers including Cosco Container Lines, Hanjin Shipping from South Korea and Russian container line Fesco said they were studying whether to make the switch in fuel.

Sun Jiakang, Cosco managing director, said the company would study the charter, which he described as a 'very important document'.

Hanjin Shipping spokeswoman Sonya Cho said: 'We have not signed up for this - just reviewing the possibility at this stage.'

The carriers agreeing to use low sulphur fuel are expected to be confirmed during Maritime Awareness Week at the end of this month.

The association urged Hong Kong to expedite talks with Guangdong 'to introduce regulations, consistent with international standards, on ship emissions in both Hong Kong and the Pearl River delta by December 31, 2012'.