Danish shippers want IMO heavy fuel ban in Arctic

Danish shippers are calling on lawmakers in Copenhagen to push for an international ban on the use of heavy fuel oil in the Arctic.

"We support a ban on using heavy fuel oil in the Arctic, but such a ban needs to be passed by the International Maritime Organisation, so it applies to all ships, regardless of where they are flagged," said Jesper Stubkjær, a spokesperson for Dansk Rederiforening, an industry lobby.

In addition to being more difficult to clean up in the event of a spill, heavy fuel oil is linked to increased air pollution and health problems, and it may accelerate the pace of global warming by spreading more energy-absorbing soot on ice and snow.

For these reasons, heavy fuel oil has been banned in the Antarctic since 2011. The IMO did not include an Arctic ban in its Polar Code, a set of maritime regulations due to take effect in 2017, but it has recommended that shippers not use heavy fuel oil in the Arctic.

Instead, it suggests shippers use a type of fuel known as marine diesel. Such fuel, however, is twice as expensive as heavy fuel oil, and Dansk Rederiforening reckons that without an outright ban, firms will be unwilling to begin using it.

"The price difference is so great that a shipper that uses marine diesel would be unable to compete with those that don't," Mr Stubkjær said.

The government declined to comment on the proposal, but Det Økologiske Råd, a conservancy, welcomed the suggestion, while also calling on shippers to cease shipping heavy fuel oil in the Arctic.

This story was first published by The Arctic Journal and is republished here by permission.