A strong team effort to comply with international regulations

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) recently described the near future as the shipping industry being hit by a “Tsunami of new regulations”.  These regulations will hit hard and some could even be game-changers. 

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An issue which gave rise to many heated debates in 2014 were the NOx Tier III rules stipulating a compulsory reduction of NOx by approx. 80% for ships keel laid on or after 1.1.2016 . A surprise decision in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) however rolled this deadline back from 2016 to 2021. In Maersk Maritime Technology, we have a dedicated function, Regulatory Affairs, who oversees ship management rules and regulations relating to safety at sea and marine environmental protection. 

A surprise decision on NOx rules 

Niels Bjørn Mortensen and Jai Alimchandani, together with partners throughout the Group, strive to achieve practical legislation for our vessels and crew and contribute to A.P. Moller – Maersk's overall competitiveness. 

“We followed the IMO meeting in May 2014 with great attention. Would the delay to 2021 be adopted, would the 2016 date be retained or would some sort of compromise be possible?” Niels Bjørn Mortensen says. The outcome was a compromise stating that the present NOx Environmental Control Area (ECA) in North America would retain the 2016 date, whereas future NOx ECA zones would only apply to ships built after the adoption date for the new NOx ECA.

There are several ways to comply with this NOx Tier III: either by installing a catalyst (“Selective Catalytic Reduction”) or exhaust gas recirculation plants, or operating on LNG. Any such system is likely to have electronic logging so even if anyone had an incentive not to comply, it would be very difficult. 

Analysing and testing technology solutions 

There are several ways to comply with this NOx Tier III: either by installing a catalyst (“Selective Catalytic Reduction”) or exhaust gas recirculation plants, or operating on LNG. Any such system is likely to have electronic logging so even if anyone had an incentive not to comply, it would be very difficult. 

Several departments in MMT, such as Technology Innovation, Engines & Propulsion and Machinery & Automation Systems have joined forces and conducted a comprehensive analysis of the various solutions, their risks and the related cost. Moreover, MMT is running a number of projects to test various solutions and figure out the best way to go for Maersk when it comes to bring down NOx emissions. 

We are even testing such systems in operation. The Engines & Propulsion department is for example running a project on Maersk Cardiff where an exhaust gas recirculation system is field tested – so far with positive results. 

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Which solution Maersk finally will go for, is not certain yet and will depend on the route and the operation as well as the size of the vessel. We will have to evaluate and decide on the right technology for each project individually. At this stage we are not excluding any technologies, but evaluating the different options on a TCO basis
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Thomas Bangslund from MMT Fuel, Paint & Chemical, technical advisor in the NOx analysis

Cases such as the sudden international NOx regulations require a strong team effort to keep up, which is why several disciplines in MMT are both working closely together and hand in hand with the business units to make sure that Maersk will be able comply in time - also with this regulation.